The United Nations approved a resolution Friday condemning the use of the death penalty in a discriminatory fashion, including its use to punish “apostasy, blasphemy, adultery, and consensual same-sex relations.” But the United States joined a minority of states who voted against it.
ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association, highlighted the outcome of the vote. Executive director Renato Sabbadini noted in a statement how atrocious some countries’ anti-gay laws are, saying, “It is unconscionable to think that there are hundreds of millions of people living in States where somebody may be executed simply because of whom they love.”
Four countries punish homosexuality with death (Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen), as do certain provinces in Nigeria and Somalia and ISIS-controlled territories in northern Iraq and northern Syria. The nations of Afghanistan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates also permit the death penalty, but rarely enforce it.
There are far more countries where homosexuality is illegal but not punishable by death. Brunei Darussalam previously passed a death penalty law, but it has not been implemented. Uganda considered such a law just a few years ago.
Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE were among the 13 countries that joined the United States in rejecting the resolution, which was introduced by Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, and Switzerland. A total of 27 countries supported it.
The resolution notably doesn’t call for the end to the death penalty. It simply condemns its usage in a discriminatory fashion. Besides the implications for people with same-sex orientations, ILGA also notes that when used to punish adultery, the death penalty is disproportionately imposed on women.
The Trump administration has not issued any explanation for the vote, which came just days after President Trump endorsed Roy Moore as the Republican Senate nominee in Alabama. Moore has expressed support for criminalizing homosexuality and when asked whether he supports the biblical punishment of death, he refused to give any clear answer.
UPDATE (10/4/17): The State Department has responded to questions about the vote.