The vote on a groundbreaking United Nations resolution 'express [ ing ] deep concern at the occurrence of violations of human rights all over the world against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation' was postponed until next year on April 25 following days of wrangling among pro- and anti-gay nations.
The unprecedented resolution, introduced by Brazil, was put before the U.N. Commission on Human Rights during its 59th session in Geneva.
It also 'call [ ed ] upon all States to promote and protect the human rights of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation.'
Activists lobbying for the resolution believed up to 20 nations were planning to vote against it, including: Algeria, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, China, Congo, Gabon, India, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Nations that were expected to vote for the resolution were: Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, Thailand, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
Several nations were expected to abstain, including: Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Paraguay, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Togo, the United States of America and Viet Nam.
Gay activists were particularly upset about the U.S.' planned abstention and engaged in several days of furious lobbying in an attempt to change the Bush administration's mind.
The U.S.' largest gay political organization, the Human Rights Campaign, criticized both the U.S. position and the postponement.
'We are very disappointed that the Commission on Human Rights has chosen to postpone action that affirms the basic human rights of the world's gay, lesbian and bisexual population, who along with the transgender community, are routinely subjected to discrimination and inhumane treatment,' said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. 'Lasting global peace begins with basic human rights for all the world's citizens.
'We are troubled by reports that the U.S. would choose to abstain from voting on a resolution that would protect the civil and human rights of the world's gay community,' Birch said. 'We are eager to work with the State Department, allied groups and our supporters in Congress on this resolution when it next comes up for consideration.'
Other activists pointed out that postponement does not equal defeat.
'This resolution was not defeated and we will be back with a vengeance next year,' said Suki Beavers, senior human-rights advisor at Action Canada for Population and Development. 'Although we didn't get a full-out victory, neither is this a defeat, and it is clear that this will be the issue for the CHR next year.'
The European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association said, 'It is a success in the sense that the resolution was not voted down and we have now more time to lobby member states of the commission.'
'Only two years ago the UNCHR voted not to accept any reports which mentioned 'sexual orientation,'' said Rodney Croome of Australia's Tasmanian Gay & Lesbian Rights Group. 'The fact that the issue is now being debated is, in itself, a step forward.'
'The issue of discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation is on the table,' Brazilian delegate Frederico S. Duque Estrada Meyer told PlanetOut. 'The Organization of the Islamic Conference and other opponents of the resolution will not get rid of it.'
A U.S. State Department spokesman said U.S. opposition stemmed from the fact that anti-discrimination laws in the U.S. often are state and local laws, not federal laws.
'As a general matter, in the United States, different aspects of the issues raised in this resolution are addressed by officials at the federal, state and local levels of government,' Richard Boucher told the AFP news wire. 'Given the multiple authorities addressing these issues and the wide variety of ways in which these issues arise, the United States was not prepared to endorse the language of this resolution. ... It [ is ] difficult for the United States in meetings like this to commit itself to something that requires some sort of universal application throughout the [ U.S. ] system.'