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Why the Trump admin opposed a UN resolution on killing gay people

The Trump administration's vote at the U.N. this week was apparently about the White House's support for the death penalty, not opposition to gay rights.
Image: North Korea
United States U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, right, speaks during United Nations Security Council meeting on North Korea's latest launch of an intercontinental...

The Trump administration has faced some intense criticism this week for voting against a U.N. resolution that condemned the death penalty for LGBT people. For many on the left, it seemed like an unusually brazen example of Donald Trump betraying the people he once vowed to protect.

So what exactly happened at the United Nations? BuzzFeed reports that this week's vote was apparently about the White House's support for the death penalty, not opposition to gay rights.

Tuesday's vote in the UN Human Rights Council was on a measure that would encourage member states to apply a moratorium to the use of the death penalty, noting in its preamble the way that it can be unfairly applied to women, to people with disabilities, along racial divides, and against people engaged in "consensual same-sex relations." That resolution passed by a vote of 27 in favor, 13 against, and 7 abstentions.Coverage of the resolution has almost exclusively focused on it being the first on the death penalty to pass while mentioning LGBT relationships, which advocacy groups like the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association have heralded as "historic."The US was one of the 13 votes against, alongside Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

The full text of the four-page U.N. resolution is online here (pdf).

A State Department spokesperson clarified yesterday that the United States "unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for conduct such as homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery, and apostasy."

Postscript: Three years ago, there was a vote on a related Human Rights Council resolution on the death penalty, though as BuzzFeed's report noted, it didn't include the portion highlighting LGBT rights. At the time, the Obama administration's delegation to the United Nations abstained from voting.