Last edited: February 20, 2005

US Defends Non-Support of Gay Bill

Agence France-Presse, April 26, 2003

From correspondents in Washington

The United States today defended its decision not to support a ground-breaking resolution at the UN Human Rights Commission that would have condemned discrimination against homosexuals.

The resolution, which was actively opposed by some Arab nations and suffered from the US refusal to back it, was put off by the Geneva-based commission until next year as it concluded its annual session today.

Because the commission deferred action on the resolution, it was not clear whether Washington would have abstained or voted against it.

But the US State Department said the United States would not have supported the resolution if it had come to a vote because it did not believe the commission was the correct forum for the matter to be discussed.

“As a general matter, in the United States, different aspects of the issues raised in this resolution are addressed by officials at the federal, state and local levels of government,” spokesman Richard Boucher said

“Given the multiple authorities addressing these issues and the wide variety of ways in which these issues arise, the United States was not prepared to endorse the language of this resolution,” he told reporters.

Existing US anti-discrimination legislation “makes it difficult for the United States in meetings like this to commit itself to something that requires some sort of universal application throughout the system”, Boucher said.

Human rights groups, including gay activists, had urged passage of the resolution, which would have been the first to specifically condemn discrimination against homosexuals and had been sponsored by Brazil with the support 19 other mainly-European countries.

Pakistan, on behalf of the several Arab nations, proposed yesterday to kill the resolution outright, complaining that it did not reflect Islamic values.

But the commission defeated Pakistan’s “no-action motion” and delayed a decision until today, the final day of the 2003 session, when the body deferred its consideration until 2004.

The United States is opposed to the use of no-action motions to defeat items in the commission and voted against the Pakistani proposal but made clear it would not vote in favour of the resolution and might abstain.

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