Digital News Report- The Obama administration announced today that it plans on signing the UN declaration that will decriminalize homosexuality worldwide. When the declaration was first proposed last year, President Bush refused to sign, which had been signed by 66 other countries already. The Bush administration defended their position by saying that the declaration interfered with state rights such as gay marriage. The United States was the only western nation to oppose the bill.
“[The US is] pleased to join the other 66 UN member states who have declared their support of this Statement that condemns human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity wherever they occur,” State Department acting spokesman Robert Wood said in a statement. “The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world.”
The declaration, which was initially proposed by France, has caused controversy at the UN. A counter statement by Syria was signed by 60 nations that opposed the declaration. Homosexuality is currently illegal in 77 countries. In some countries, such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, homosexuality is punishable by the death penalty.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “Human rights is and always will be one of the pillars of our foreign policy. [The] persecution and discrimination against gays and lesbians is something we take very seriously.”
Amnesty International issued a statement applauding the President’s decision. “This is a welcome change from the Bush administration’s recent refusal to sign on to the declaration… By signing the declaration, President Obama gives key support to the struggle to bring about a world where all human beings are treated equally.”