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Newsfile: December 2010

Newsfile aggregates news that might otherwise drop off the horizon about situations affecting humanitarian work and the international situation. It doesn't chase after the most immediate stories which other newsfeeds can offer. Latest items from each region are presented first. To comply with fair-use rules we give only a headline, or enough of the story to explain the headline. All the stories cited are fully detailed. Dollars are U.S. unless stated otherwise.




Sexual persecution restored to Assembly resolution against 'unjustified executions'

On 21 December 2010 the General Assembly voted 93-55 with 27 abstentions to restore a reference to gays in a resolution against the killing of minority groups.

The U.S. proposed the amendment, which was welcomed by human rights groups. The declaration was first presented in 2008. At the urging of African and Islamic States*, the section was dropped from the resolution opposing the "unjustified" killing of minority groups (our italics). European nations pointed out it had been part of the General Assembly declarations since 999 .

African countries objected that it was an attempt "to create new rights, new standards or new groups". The terminology covers transgender and bisexual persons as well as homosexuals. It refers to "sexual orientation". The amended resolution went through with 122 in favour, 1 against and 62 abstentions (the AP gives different figures).

Don't look for the story on the U.N. Website, though. You can find the Secretary-General's remarks on 10 December 2010 on ending violence and criminal sanctions based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

But entering 'sexual orientation' in the main search panel won't find it. You have to call up the Meetings summary for 21 December and find it buried (11th paragraph and no reference in the decisions summary at the top), and no indication of the one State that still oppsed the resolution in the recorded vote. Since the issue has been dragging on since 2008 you might have thought the solution merited some prominence. Reuters reported that Saudi Arabia was the only State that voted against, and that the U.S. having led the opposition to Moslem and African States abstained without explanation in the final vote.

The Third Committee discussion earlier is covered in a summary that seems almost unintelligible to a plain reader, though the detailed report of comments makes it all clear.

* The most vocal opponent was Morocco, which is not an Arab State, of course, though many journalists seem to have believed so.

U.N. wire 22 December 2010, BBC, AP/Washington Post /Reuters