Unlikely group of countries condemn Orlando attack

indaorlando2The United States corralled an unlikely group of countries to support a United Nations Security Council statement that condemned the attack for “targeting persons as a result of their sexual orientation.” Even Egypt and Russia — not known for embracing their gay and lesbian citizens — signed on, after what diplomats called intense consultations.

Earlier in the day, the United States delivered a pointed rebuke to countries that block gay rights at the United Nations, urging them to “contribute more than condolences and condemnations” after the Orlando attack.

And American embassies in several countries, including India, which still has an anti-sodomy law on the books, draped themselves in the colors of the rainbow flag that signifies gay pride.

The Security Council statement, which was drafted by the United States and issued Monday, carries no legal weight. But it is the first time that the powerful institution, with the capacity to authorize wars, weighed in on sexual orientation.

Homosexuality is still a crime in 73 of the world’s 193 countries, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association; in 13, the death penalty can be applied. In some countries, like Egypt, laws against “debauchery” are used to target gays. Russian law prohibits what it calls “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships,” which critics call a thinly veiled measure to harass gay men and lesbians.

Gay rights have been front and center in American diplomacy at least since 2011, when Hillary Clinton, then the secretary of state, declared at the United Nations in Geneva that “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

In 2011, the United Nations Human Rights Council for the first time passed a resolution condemning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In 2014, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, an outspoken advocate for gay rights, announced that the United Nations would recognize same-sex unions of employees who are married in a jurisdiction where same-sex marriage is legal, including New York.

Image: Members of the gay community and other groups in Bangalore, India, held a demonstration to condemn the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.
HAGADEESH NV/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Story via: New York Times