For the first time, the General Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution that includes “sexual orientation and gender identity.” In diplomatic statements during the session, twenty-two countries objected to the inclusion of the controversial terms. Still, no country opted to vote against the resolution.

The Ambassador of Saudi Arabia said the controversial terms “sexual orientation and gender identity” were “not in harmony with divine nature.” He emphasized that “God created man and woman as a couple, male and female.”

Many countries said the inclusion of the terms “sexual orientation and gender identity” in the U.S.-sponsored resolution on free and fair elections said the terms ran against their cultures and laws. They insisted that the terms are not agreed internationally and should not be included in future resolutions. And they questioned the relevance of including them in a resolution about free and fair elections.

“In your country, do you have to confirm your sexual orientation when you collect your ballot paper?” asked a Russian delegate derisively after the resolution was adopted.

A delegate from Egypt said the inclusion of the language “undermines” the human rights system and was “imposing vague concepts pertaining to private matters that are outside the human rights framework.”

A vote on the resolution was expected yesterday afternoon in the plenary session of the General Assembly when the resolution was to be finally adopted. The UN secretariat staff running the meeting had taken steps in anticipation of a vote rather than passage by unanimous consensus. An online statement submitted by Saudi Arabia appeared to call for a vote. Under intense pressure from the Biden administration, in the end, no vote was taken.

The language in the resolution goes beyond asking for respect or privacy. It commits countries to “eliminate laws, regulations and practices that discriminate, directly or indirectly” or that may have an effect on the participation of individuals who identify as LGBT in elections as a human right obligation. This broad language could be interpreted by the UN system as requiring recognition of homosexual marriage and hormone therapies for children who identify as being of their opposite sex as well as comprehensive sexuality education.

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