U.S. urges U.N. to do more on gay rights

March 23, 2011 at 9:18 AM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, March 23 (UPI) -- The Obama administration expressed support for the U.N. Human Rights Council's work on gay rights worldwide, while calling on the agency to do more.

Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, the U.S. ambassador to the council, said the United States was committed to supporting the rights of the gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender community because human rights "are the inalienable right of every person, no matter who they are or who they love," the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

The U.N. Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, Switzerland, has condemned human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

"It is a really pressing issue globally that there continue to be killings on the basis of sexual orientation and persecution on that basis," said Suzanne Nossel, the U.S. State Department's deputy assistant secretary for international organization affairs. "I think this (the U.S. statement) will stimulate dialogue and increase recognition of the importance of the issue among governments."

The support expressed by the Obama administration marked a change from the presidency of George W. Bush's, which generally avoided the issue in the United Nations, the Times said.

The statement is the latest move by the administration to demonstrate its support for gay rights, including holding that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and ending the military's policy of "don't ask, don't tell." While in Brazil this week, Obama announced plans to create a government position to monitor gay rights in the Western Hemisphere.

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