The US Ambassador to the United Nations has made false claims about Barack Obama as she struggles to justify a controversial vote.
The US recently sparked anger when it sided with the Egypt, Saudia Arabia and Iraq in voting against a measure at the United Nations Human Rights Council that condemned the imposition of the death penalty for homosexuality.
The motion, which passed despite the US opposition, condemned the use of the death penalty “arbitrarily or in a discriminatory manner”, including for homosexuality.
It called for the death penalty to be banned “as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations”, as well as criticising its use on minors, mentally ill people and pregnant women.
UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who was appointed by Donald Trump, has defended herself amid the row, claiming that it was long-standing US policy to vote against measures relating to the death penalty.
She tweeted: “Fact: There was NO vote by USUN that supported the death penalty for gay people. We have always fought for justice for the LGBT community.
“Fact: The vote that took place in Geneva is the same US vote that took place under the Obama admin. It was not a vote against LGBT #Fact”
However, her #Facts are not actually facts, and are actually #Complete #Falsehoods.
Though the UN did vote on a measure on the death penalty in 2014, during Obama’s term of office, it contained no such measure relating to LGBT people.
The vote last week was the first time that condeming the death penalty for homosexuality had been part of a Human Rights Council motion.
In addition, the US didn’t cast “the same vote” under Obama on the motion incorrectly identified by Haley.
The US abstained on the 2014 motion, while in 2017 it cast a vote against.
And despite her claims that the Trump administration is opposed to the executions of gay people around the world, a key Trump aide has this week refused to make any such condemnation.
Sam Brownback, who Trump has nominated as a ‘religious freedom’ Ambassador, was asked about the issue during his confirmation session this week.
He was asked: “Is there any circumstance under which criminalizing, imprisoning, or executing people based on their LGBT status could be deemed acceptable because somebody asserts that they are religiously motivated in doing so?”
Brownback declined to make an explicit condemnation, saying: “I don’t know what that would be, in what circumstance, but I would continue the policies that have been done in the prior administration in working on these international issues.”
Of the 47 countries on the Human Rights Council, 27 voted in favour while 13 states voted against.
The United States voted against the motion, alongside Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates.
Cuba, South Korea, Philippines, Indonesia, Tunisia, Nigeria, Kenya all abstained.
Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global told PinkNews: “Ambassador Haley has failed the LGBTQ community by not standing up against the barbaric use of the death penalty to punish individuals in same-sex relationships.
“While the UN Human Rights Council took this crucially important step, the Trump/Pence administration failed to show leadership on the world stage by not championing this critical measure.
“This administration’s blatant disregard for human rights and LGBTQ lives around the world is beyond disgraceful.”
André du Plessis, Head of UN Programme and Advocacy at the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) explained to PinkNews: “No votes on this resolution as a whole are generally best-interpreted as a position by a country on the death penalty as a whole.
“It is important to point out that a ‘no’ vote on the resolution is not addressing same-sex relations, but the wider application of death penalty generally.
“The United States, for example, has the death penalty and has a consistent record of voting no on resolutions that are against it.”
He added: “We are grateful for the leadership of the eight countries that brought this resolution – Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia and Switzerland – countries that come from every corner of the globe showing truly cross-regional support.”
There are currently six countries where the death penalty is enforced for same-sex relations – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, plus some regions of Nigeria and Somalia.
The death penalty is also carried out by ISIS-controlled areas in northern Iraq and northern Syria.
Five further states – Afghanistan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Qatar and the UAE – permit the death penalty technically, but it has not publicly been invoked. Brunei changed the law in 2014 to allow the death penalty for homosexuality, but is yet to enact the change.
Renato Sabbadini, Executive Director of ILGA, 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.
“This is a monumental moment where the international community has publicly highlighted that these horrific laws simply must end.”
Ruth Baldacchino and Helen Kennedy, co-Secretaries General at ILGA, added: “The entrenched patriarchy and gender stereotyping behind adultery laws are the same causes behind laws that seek to criminalise and execute persons for consensual same-sex relations.
“These laws don’t just affect those with non-normative sexual orientations. Trans and gender non-conforming persons also face oppression and violence because of them. We stand together in solidarity.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently released a report on the question of the death penalty where he examined its disproportionate impact on different groups and its discriminatory use based on gender or sexual orientation.
He wrote: “The imposition of the death penalty for offences relating to consensual homosexual conduct continues to be provided for in the legislation of many States.
“While few cases of executions for consensual same-sex conduct have been carried out recently, the existence of such laws discriminates against the conduct of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.”