"Sexual Orientation" Vote in UN Panel Kicks Up Controversy

Published: December 1, 2010

HAVANA, Dec 1, 2010 (IPS) – An unusually strong controversy has broken out in Cuba over a vote by the delegation from this Caribbean nation in favour of an amendment that left out the specific mention of sexual orientation in a United Nations General Assembly resolution on extrajudicial, arbitrary or summary executions.

In a country where people generally agree with or simply do not question the stances taken by the government in international forums, representatives of different sectors of civil society, as well as the governmental National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX), have expressed concern over the position taken by the Cuban delegation.

"Failure to specifically mention discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation gives the green light for many states and governments to continue to treat homosexuality as a crime," Alberto Roque, president of the sexual diversity unit of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for the Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES), told IPS.

Cuba is the only country in Latin America that backed the amendment introduced by Morocco and Mali on behalf of African and Islamic nations that called for replacing the words "sexual orientation" with "discriminatory reasons on any basis."

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