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White House Defends Voting Against Ban on Death Penalty for Homosexuality

The Trump administration has struck back at reports that the United States voted against a U.N. resolution calling for an end to the death penalty for homosexuality.

Current United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley claimed on Twitter that there was “no vote that supported the death penalty for gay people.” The former South Carolina governor, who was tapped for the position in January, wrote in a Tuesday tweet, “We have always fought for justice for the LGBT community.”

Haleyadded that the Obama administration voted the same way. “It was not a vote against LGBT,” she said, adding the hashtag “#FACT.”

State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert called the reports “misleading.” She said in a video response that the administration had “broader concerns with the resolution’s approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances.”

“We had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the positions that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully, as the United States does,” claimed the former Fox News correspondent. “The United States unequivocally condemns the use of the death penalty for conduct such as homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery, and apostasy.”

“We do not consider such conduct appropriate for criminalization,” she continued. “I hope that’s clear.”

There are a number of issues with these claims. First, the Obama White House sat out an earlier voteon the U.N. resolution, and the 2014 draft of the mandate did not enumerate homosexuality in its language. Although Nauert said that the resolution “called for the abolition of the death penalty altogether,” it avoided taking a clear stance on the morality of capital punishmentas multiple outlets have reported.

Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador under Obama, dismissed any suggestion that the Trump administration’s position is in line with its predecessor.

“I was proud to lead U.S. efforts at U.N. to protect LGBTQ people, back in the day when America stood for human rights for all,” Rice claimed in a series of tweets. “Not even Russia and Iran stooped as low as we did. Nice job, guys.”

The United States was one of 13 countries to vote against the U.N. resolution last Friday. It was joined in opposition by China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Among the nations that supported the measure were Albania, Congo, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Rwanda.

The Trump administration’s vote has been condemned by a number of leading human rights groups.

“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,” said ILGA Executive Director Renato Sabbatini in a statement. “This is a monumental moment where the international community has publicly highlighted that these horrific laws simply must end.”

Homosexuality remains illegal in more than 70 countries. Ten nations have laws on the books that allow the death penalty for same-sex relations, including Afghanistan, Iran, Somalia, and Yemen.

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