The South African government has once again shamefully voted in the United Nations against protecting LGBT people.

On Tuesday, African countries led a move to remove a reference to sexual orientation from a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in the United Nations General Assembly.

The resolution urges states to protect the right to life of all people, including by calling on states to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds.

For the past 10 years, the resolution had included sexual orientation in the list of discriminatory grounds on which killings are often based, but this was changed this week.

The amendment removing the reference to sexual orientation was sponsored by Benin on behalf of the African Group.

South Africa joined other African and Middle Eastern countries – many of which actively oppress LGBT people – in supporting the move. The amendment was adopted with 79 votes in favour, 70 against, 17 abstentions and 26 absent.

“This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development,” said Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

“It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalise homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime, and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalising homosexuality.”

South Africa has an appalling history of backing African nations in the UN even when this conflicts with its own constitution and domestic policies.

In June this year, South Africa was slammed for objecting to the inclusion of discrimination against LGBT people in a report on racism and intolerance by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

In December 2008, South Africa also refused to sign a symbolic UN declaration which called for the decriminalisation of homosexuality, despite the country’s constitution that specifically outlaws discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

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