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U.N. Resolution Passed to Protect Human Rights of Homosexuals

The second-ever U.N. resolution condemning violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people was adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday. The resolution, drawn up by Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia, with strong support from the U.S., passed 25-14 in the 47-member council. Russia joined Islamic and African countries in voting against the resolution. Homosexuality remains a criminal, and sometimes capital, offense in many Muslim countries, and 75 countries still have discriminatory laws aimed at homosexuals, U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power said.

China also voted "no," saying the resolution was "too divisive." But Italy and Ireland, where homosexuality is considered taboo, as well as Cuba and Venezuela, which are usually opposed to Western-backed resolutions, all voted for it. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, former Jordanian diplomat Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, will have to deliver a report on the state of human rights for homosexuals next year and propose ways to combat violence against the LGBT community.

The U.S. applauded the vote, with the State Department saying, "The resolution will lead to further UN reporting on this critical human rights issue." Secretary of State John Kerry said: "We have a moral obligation to speak up against marginalization and persecution of LGBT persons.We have a moral obligation to promote societies that are more just and more fair, more tolerant."

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— Elisha Fieldstadt, with Reuters