Update: A White House National Security Council spokesperson explained why the U.S. made its decision to vote against the death penalty condemnation. “The United States unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery and apostasy,” they said. “As in years past, we voted against this resolution because of broader concerns with the resolution’s approach to condemning the death penalty in all circumstances.”


The United Nations Human Rights Council passed a measure to condemn the death penalty for gay individuals. The United States was among 13 countries who voted against it.

The resolution asks for countries not to use the death penalty in a “discriminatory manner” for LGBT people, those with intellectual disabilities, people under 18 and pregnant women. A majority 27 of the 47 countries in the Human Rights Council voted to condemn the use of the death penalty, according to Gay Star News.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said in March that the country would leave the HRC if there was no “considerable reform.” Tillerson took issue with the inclusion of countries like China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, due to their poor human rights records, according to The Hill.

“If they don’t make these reforms, we’re going to question the value of our membership,” a senior aide to Tillerson said. "We’re not taking withdrawal off the table. Our aim is to fix the organization.”

Despite this statement, the U.S. voted in line with China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia in an attempt to shoot down the measure. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Russia also made six total attempts to alter the wording of the measure, but did not succeed.

According to Adré du Plessis, the Head of UN Programme and Advocacy for the International Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex Association said the U.S. voted against because it “has the death penalty and has a consistent record of voting no on resolutions that are against it.” Six countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Sudan, widely perform the death penalty on LGBT individuals.

Previously, the now defunct U.N. Human Rights Commision passed a similar measure about the death penalty a decade ago. The resolution is the first of its kind passed by the HRC.

Here is the list of countries that voted against the resolution below.

  1. Bangladesh
  2. Botswana
  3. Burundi
  4. China
  5. Egypt
  6. Ethiopia
  7. India
  8. Iraq
  9. Japan
  10. Qatar
  11. Saudi Arabia
  12. The United Arab Emirates
  13. The United States