On the UN General Assembly’s Historic Vote for LGBT Rights Mark Leon Goldberg December 19, 2008 History was made at the United Nations yesterday when 60 countries signed onto a General Assembly declaration in support of the decriminalization of homosexuality. France--which currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union--spearheaded the resolution, which was a 13 point declaration "to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention." Opposing the resolution, were the United States, the Holy See, and members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. This latter group issued its own statement claiming the declaration would ease restrictions against pedophilia. The United States couched its opposition in legal technicalities. "We are opposed to any discrimination, legally or politically," said Alejandro D. Wolff, the deputy U.S. ambassador. "But the nature of our federal system prevents us from undertaking commitments and engagements where federal authorities don't have jurisdiction." Despite the opposition, this was a pretty significant event for the United Nations--and for the world. A resolution like this is non-binding, meaning that it does not have the force of law anywhere. But in the long run these kinds of resolutions do help to foster the genesis of new legal norms and new human rights.