Some very good news to report from the United Nations yesterday. The General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a measure, introduced by the United States, to restore “sexual orientation” to a list of groups that should receive special protection from extrajudicial killing.
Last month, a coalition of conservative states (mostly from Africa and the Middle East) successfully pushed through an amendment to a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions that removed a specific reference to “sexual orientation” among other named groups (like religious minorities, indigenous peoples, etc). That amendment made it through the General Assembly’s Third Committee by a vote of 79 in favor, 70 opposed, with 17 abstaining and 26 not voting.
The United States vowed to introduce an amendment to re-instate the reference to sexual orientation and civil society groups from around the world kicked into gear. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission helped mobilize a large coalition of human rights groups to pressure countries into restoring the reference to “sexual orientation.”
The resolution is non-binding. But it is an important symbolic victory for human rights at the United Nations. The struggle is not over. Next step: gain recognition for the particular vulnerabilities of transgender people.