U.N. vote contradicts established U.S. values by supporting death penalty for gay relationships

An individual waves the gay pride flag outside of the United States Supreme Court in April 2015. The vote in the United Nations to allow the death penalty for same-gender relationships is disappointing and seems regressive considering the progress made by the LGBTQ+ community recently. (Ted Eytan/creative commons)

The United States voted in opposition of the United Nations’ resolution on Sept. 29 condemning the death penalty as a punishment for same-sex relations. This decision to vote essentially in favor of the death penalty as a consequence for homosexual relations is detrimental for the U.S.’s progression toward equality for the LGBTQ+ community. 

The United Nations Human Rights Council has previously passed resolutions regarding the denouncement of the death penalty, however, this is the first time it includes language pertaining to same-sex relations. The final vote at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, was 27 in favor, 13 against and seven abstentions, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

The U.S. was among 13 other countries that voted against this ban. China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Iraq are included within the countries that opposed the resolution. Most of these  nations have had a history of practicing behaviors that perpetuate ideals of inequality, according to CNN. This suggests that the U.S. is beginning to develop similar values as these bigoted countries, which is unacceptable, considering our previously progressive policies.

As a country that considers itself forward thinking, the U.S. has taken a momentous step backwards in regard to human equality with this sentiment. As Renato Sabbadini, the executive director of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association said, “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,” as reported by Forbes.

Essentially, the vote against this resolution will affect how other countries perceive our treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, and might negatively influence their inclination to reform impacting these individuals.

The U.S. finalized the decision to vote against the ban due to the sole reason that it could lead to the banning of executions in general, and Heather Nauert, the U.S. State Department Spokesperson, claimed that “the United States unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery and apostasy. As in years past, we voted against this resolution because of broader concerns with the resolution’s approach to condemning the death penalty in all circumstances.”

This argument does not put the impact on the LGBTQ+ community into consideration and is seemingly simplifying a much larger issue of perception and genuine morality.

The U.S. has previously voted against this resolution, prior to it including language regarding same-sex relations. This opposition, however, affects a prominent population of Americans who identify as LGBTQ+ in a significantly  negative way.

In the past, the U.S. has appeared to be one of the most accepting countries in the world. In June of 2015, the U.S. legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states. This was a revolutionary moment in modern history, as it suggested an entire country's support of a marginalized population.

The decision to support the death penalty as a “punishment for consensual same-sex relationships,” as highlighted by the Human Rights Campaign, however, has negated all previous pro-equality actions practiced by the U.S. The way that our nation has handled this situation is obscene.

This vote made by the U.S. supports the persecution of the LGBTQ+ community and reflects homophobic beliefs. It is necessary to take actions that continue to protect underrepresented groups, and votes should not be made based on other policies when individuals’ lives are at stake. The U.S. cannot proudly wave a rainbow flag when, according to our government, homosexuality qualifies for the death penalty.