The top United Nations human rights council approved a gay rights resolution Friday that called for no discrimination and violence on people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The resolution, proposed by South Africa, was adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council, 23 to 19. The declaration was supported by the U.S. and other Western countries but opposed by African and Arab countries. Three countries, including China, abstained from the vote.
The controversial resolution marked the first time a U.N. body has backed the rights of gay, lesbian and transgendered people.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the resolution's passage a "historic moment."
"All over the world, people face human rights abuses and violations because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including torture, rape, criminal sanctions, and killing. Today’s landmark resolution affirms that human rights are universal," Clinton said in a statement.
The resolution expressed "grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity."
In March, the U.S. issued a nonbinding declaration that called on governments around the world to take actions to end violence and human rights violations against gay and lesbian people. The document was supported by more than 80 countries at the United Nations.
Countries that voted against the Friday's declaration contended that it actually disregarded universal human rights, not protected them.
Speaking on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Shafqat Ali Khan of Pakistan said before the vote that the conference was concerned the Council was discussing controversial notions of sexual orientation.
"We are seriously concerned at the attempt to introduce to the United Nations some notions that have no legal foundation in any international human rights instrument."
Ositadinma Anaedu, the representative from Nigeria, criticized South Africa for breaking ranks with African countries and siding with the West. He said more than 90 percent of the African people did not support this resolution.
Friday's resolution will commission the first ever U.N. study on the challenges that people around the globe face because of their sexual orientation and gender identity that will be finalized by December 2011. It also calls for a panel discussion during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council to discuss the findings of the report.
States that supported the resolution include: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Hungary, Japan, Mauritius, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.
States that opposed the resolution are: Angola, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Cameroon, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Jordan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Uganda.
Burkina Faso, China and Zambia abstained.
The following is the text of the resolution
Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity
The Human Rights Council
Recalling the universality, interdependence, indivisibility and interrelatedness of human rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and consequently elaborated in other human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other relevant core human rights instruments,
Recallling also that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in that Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status;
Recalling further General Assembly resolution 60/251 of 15 March 2006, in which the Assembly stated that the Human Rights Council should be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in fair and equal manner,
Expressing grave concern at acts of violence and discrimination, in all regions of the world, committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity
1. Requests the High Commissioner to commission a study to be finalized by December 2011, to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity, in all regions of the world, and how international human rights law can be used to end violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity;
2. Decides to convene a panel discussion during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, informed by the facts contained in the study commissioned by the High Commissioner and to have constructive, informed and transparent dialogue on the issue of discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity;
3. Decides also that the panel will also discuss the appropriate follow-up to the recommendations of the study commissioned by the High Commissioner;
4. Decides to remain seized of this priority issue.