Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley might insist the United States didn’t just refuse to condemn state-sanctioned capital punishment for homosexuality; but — because the death penalty remains legal in the Land of the Free — that’s precisely what happened.
In siding with twelve other nations like known human rights-abuser and longtime petro-ally, Saudi Arabia, terrorism-supporting Qatar, and politically-oppressive Burundi, the United States made plain the existence of its own state-sanctioned death penalty inherently prohibits its condemnation of capital punishment.
No matter that the United Nations’ Human Rights Council denouncement of capital punishment specifies the killing of LGBTQ individuals and those who perpetrated crimes as children, and additionally calls for a study of racial bias in death penalty sentencing — an aspect the U.S. likely considers untenable — given its own failures to address racial disparity and injustice.
Make no mistake in comprehending Haley’s defense of the indefensible — green-lighting the killing of people for whom they love — the U.S. voted against impugning the death penalty for gay people and for those who were mere kids when they committed a capital crime, and then tacitly balked at the suggestion American courts might indeed sentence Black people and other minorities to die more often than their white counterparts.
For the record, on the “question of the death penalty,” the Human Rights Council’s resolution categorically condemned the “imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations,” and castigated capital punishment for those with “mental or intellectual disabilities, persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, and pregnant women.”
None of that matters to the Government of the United States since the Government of the United States approves of capital punishment for certain — ostensively abominable — crimes.
“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,” Renato Sabbadini, executive director of The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), asserted in a statement on the U.S. vote, cited by Forbes. “This is a monumental moment where the international community has publicly highlighted that these horrific laws simply must end.”
Besides the thirteen nations voting against condemnation, seven abstained — including Indonesia, the Philippines, and North Korea — and 27, from Congo and Rwanda to Venezuela and the U.K., voted in favor.
Furthermore, as noted by the Independent, “The US supported two failed amendments put forward by Russia, which stated the death penalty was not necessarily ‘a human rights violation’ and that it is not a form of torture, but can lead to it ‘in some cases.’
“And it abstained on a ‘sovereignty amendment’ put forward by Saudi Arabia, that stated ‘the right of all countries to develop their own laws and penalties.’”
In no uncertain terms, this intimates the U.S. government has a keen interest in maintaining its ability to impose the death penalty more than it does examining the gaping wounds scarring the nation’s supposed system of justice — which incidentally incarcerates by orders of magnitude the largest proportion of the population, and in particular minorities, of any nation-state on the planet.
Human rights organizations wasted no time issuing scathing rebukes to the affront.
“Ambassador Haley has failed the LGBTQ community by not standing up against the barbaric use of the death penalty to punish individuals in same-sex relationships,” Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Global director Ty Cobb contended. “While the U.N. Human Rights Council took this crucially important step, the Trump/Pence administration failed to show leadership on the world stage by not championing this critical measure. This administration’s blatant disregard for human rights and LGBTQ lives around the world is beyond disgraceful.”
Susan Rice, Haley’s predecessor at the United Nations, recalled her tenure and progress putatively accomplished under President Obama, lamenting on Twitter, “I was proud to lead U.S. efforts at UN to protect LGBTQ people, back in the day when America stood for human rights for all.”
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert joined defense of the Trump administration’s ‘no’ vote, calling a spate of media reports intoning the suggestion of bias against the LGBTQ community “misleading,” and stating, “The United States unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for conduct such as homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery and apostasy. We do not consider such conduct appropriate for criminalization.”
Saying the U.S. was “disappointed” to have to vote against the condemnation, Nauert made plain there were “broader concerns with the resolution’s approach to condemning the death penalty in all circumstances,” and “had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the positions of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully, as the United States does.”
Nauert continued attempts to dismiss resounding vitriol over the U.S.’ position on social media, tweeting, “FactCheck: Reports on @UN HumanRightsCouncil vote WRONG. US condemns death penalty based on sex orientation, blasphemy, apostasy @StateDept.”
One keen Twitterer skewered the State Department, responding with text of the resolution and Nauert’s claims, arguing, “Ms. Nauert, it is you who is spreading the misinformation. Where in the text does it call for an abolition of the death penalty?”
In an email, Charles Radcliffe, Chief of Equality and Non-Discrimination at the U.N.’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights posited a “likely reason” for the no vote surrounded the nation’s dark status as one of the planet’s top ten most prolific executioners — and told Huffington Post the United States “consistently votes against or abstains on all resolutions having to do with the death penalty as a matter of principle — and has done so for many years, including during the Obama administration.”
Whether lack of condemnation of states who wish to kill gay people for being gay, or equivocal approval of the same, is a matter of deceptive semantics — propaganda — and gymnastics of logic of stunning proportions, just so that the United States can continue its horrendously flawed practice of sending people to die.
And that — perhaps most of all — tells of a nation dedicated to fear, punishment, and heavy-handedness rather than anything pertaining to the rights of human beings to exist freely and unencumbered.
(Featured image: Express)