US Defends Non-Support of Gay Bill
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
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
“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
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
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