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No, the US didn’t vote against condemning executing LGBTQ people

By in Press Enterprise on October 6, 2017

By The Editorial Board

In a polarized political landscape such as ours, nuance is routinely lost in the rush to reduce complicated issues into simplified, politically convenient headlines.

Such is the case with the United States’ recent vote against a U.N. resolution opposing the death penalty.

On Sept. 29, the U.S. was one of 13 countries to vote against a resolution of the U.N. Human Rights Council entitled “The question of the death penalty.”

Historically, the U.S. has opposed U.N. resolutions condemning the death penalty and calling for death penalty abolition, which makes sense considering more than half of the states in the country have the death penalty on the books. Given this, it was unsurprising that the U.S. voted against yet another anti-death penalty resolution, as it had as recently as Dec. 2016 and before that in 2014.

And yet, the vote ended up spurring several misleading headlines.

“United States rejects U.N. resolution condemning use of death penalty to target LGBTQ people” read one headline from ThinkProgress. Along similar lines, Daily Kos published a piece proclaiming: “U.S. joins Saudi Arabia to vote against U.N. resolution opposing death penalty for ‘same-sex relations.’”

Prompted by such stories, Lt. Gov. and gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom called on people via Twitter to “be outraged” that, “The US rejected a UN resolution condemning executions of LGBT community simply because of who they love.”

If true, it would be outrageous and unacceptable. Fortunately, it isn’t true, but unfortunately, the misinformation has already gone viral.

The source of the misinformation was a couple of lines in the resolution condemning the use of the death penalty for things like apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations.

There are at least six countries where the death penalty for same-sex relations is permitted — Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex […]    

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