UNITED NATIONS Arab and African nations succeeded Tuesday in getting a U.N. General Assembly panel to delete from a resolution condemning unjustified executions a specific reference to killings due to sexual orientation.
Western delegations expressed disappointment in the human rights committee's vote to remove the reference to slayings due to sexual orientation from the resolution on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.
"The subject of this amendment -- the need for prompt and thorough investigations of all killing, including those committed for ... sexual orientation -- exists in this resolution simply because it is a continuing cause for concern," a British statement to the committee said.
The General Assembly passes a resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions and other killings every two years. The 2008 declaration included an explicit reference to killings committed because of the victims' sexual preferences.
But this year, Morocco and Mali introduced an amendment on behalf of African and Islamic nations that called for deleting the words "sexual orientation" and replacing them with "discriminatory reasons on any basis."
That amendment narrowly passed 79-70. The resolution then was approved by the committee, which includes all 192 U.N. member states, with 165 in favor, 10 abstentions and no votes against.
The U.S. delegation voted against the deletion but abstained from the vote on the final resolution. Diplomats said the U.S. delegation also voiced disappointment at the decision to remove the reference to sexual orientation.
The resolution, which is expected to be formally adopted by the General Assembly in December, specifies many other types of violence, including killings for racial, national, ethnic, religious or linguistic reasons and killings of refugees, indigenous people and other groups.
"It's a step backwards and it's extremely disappointing that some countries felt the need to remove the reference to sexual orientation, when sexual orientation is the very reason why so many people around the world have been subjected to violence," said Philippe Bolopion of Human Rights Watch.
(Editing by Xavier Briand)