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January 02, 2009

66 nations condemn gay death laws, but not the U.S.

New York City--Sixty-six nations supported a United Nations resolution condemning homophobic human rights violations, but the United States was not one of them.

The non-binding measure was presented December 18 by France, with the support of the majority of the European Union.

It called for an end to laws against gay sex in 79 countries, some of which execute people who are convicted.

China, Russia and members of the Organizations of the Islamic Conference refused to support the statement, along with the United States.

According to the New York Times, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Navanethem Pillay, said that laws against gay people �are increasingly becoming recognized as anachronistic and as inconsistent both with international law and with traditional values of dignity, inclusion and respect for all.�

An opposing statement was read rejecting the immutability of sexual orientation, and said that the measure would legalize pedophilia.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference, an association of 56 Muslim countries, also tried to remove sexual orientation as one of the reasons for summary executions in a Swedish-sponsored formal resolution condemning such killings.

�The Bush administration is trying to come up with Christmas presents for the religious right so it will be remembered,� said Scott Long, a director at the international agency Human Rights Watch.

The French secretary for human rights and the Dutch foreign minister expressed disappointment in the American position, which the government justified by saying that the measure was too broad and could be viewed as overriding states� rights on issues including same-sex marriage.

�We are opposed to any discrimination, legally or politically, but the nature of our federal system prevents us from undertaking commitments and engagements where federal authorities don�t have jurisdiction,� said deputy permanent U.S. representative Alejandro D. Wolff.

The Vatican also opposed the measure, and drew sharp criticism when its permanent observer to the United Nations told a French Catholic news agency that it would "add new categories of those protected from discrimination," according to Reuters.

"If adopted, they would create new and implacable discriminations," Archbishop Celestino Migliore said. "For example, states which do not recognize same-sex unions as 'matrimony' will be pilloried and made an object of pressure."

�Grotesque� was the adjective La Stampa, a mainstream Italian newspaper, used to describe the archbishop�s reasoning.

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