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MPs condemn exclusion of ‘sexual orientation’ from UN resolution

MPs have begun to put their names to a statement condemning the recent vote at the UN General Assembly which removes reference to ‘sexual orientation’ from a resolution on executions. EDM 1198, tabled by Liberal Democrat Stephen Gilbert MP and with cross party support at time of tabling by Dr Julian Huppert MP, vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group, Dr Caroline Lucas MP, Peter Bottomley MP and Mark  Durkan MP, raises concerns about the resolution. The British Humanist Association (BHA) and the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) worked with Parliamentarians in initiating the EDM and are asking their supporters to contact their MPs about this important issue.

The resolution, which is passed every two years, 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 has included sexual orientation in the list of discriminatory grounds on which killings are often based.

The removed reference was originally contained in a non-exhaustive list in the resolution highlighting the many groups of people that are particularly targeted by killings – including persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, persons acting as human rights defenders (such as lawyers, journalists or demonstrators) as well as street children and members of indigenous communities. Mentioning sexual orientation as a basis on which people are targeted for killing highlights a situation in which particular vigilance is required in order for all people to be afforded equal protection.

EDM 1198 states:

That this House notes with grave concern the vote of the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly to remove a reference to sexual orientation from a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; believes that this constitutes the removal of the recognition of a particular vulnerability of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people around the world where 76 countries criminalise homosexuality and five consider it a capital crime; and call on the UK government to condemn this decision and work with other governments to overturn this vote.

The UK was one of 70 countries which voted against removing that reference to sexual orientation.

BHA Head of Public Affairs Naomi Phillips commented, ‘Actions such as these at the UN show just how important it is for people to join together to oppose the deep problem of homophobia that can blight and affect even our shared, international institutions. The UK was one of the countries which opposed the move to remove reference to sexual orientation from the UN resolution and we hope that many MPs will now express their own concerns by supporting this EDM.’

TAKE ACTION NOW! Email your MP to ask him/her to support EDM 1198


For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips at or 020 7079 3585.

For over 30 years the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA) has promoted Humanism as a free-thinking, rational, ethical worldview. It campaigns for equality and diversity, particularly relating to sexual orientation and identity – both in the UK and internationally. It is an independent voluntary organisation funded by supporter donations.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity representing and supporting the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.

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