President Donald Trump’s administration is facing strong backlash from civil rights groups after voting against a U.N. resolution that condemns using the death penalty to punish “consensual same-sex relations.”
The U.N. Human Rights Council approved the measure on Friday with a 27-13 vote, with seven countries abstaining. The United States, led by Ambassador Nikki Haley, voted for an amendment to the resolution that said the death penalty was not necessarily a human rights violation, and voted against amendments urging countries to stop using experimental drugs in executions.
The Human Rights Campaign called the vote “beyond disgraceful,” and former Obama National Security Adviser Susan Rice took aim at Trump:
Shame on US! I was proud to lead U.S. efforts at UN to protect LGBTQ people, back in the day when America stood for human rights for all ?? https://t.co/3Y403bP7Wh
— Susan Rice (@AmbassadorRice) October 3, 2017
The Trump administration’s vote is nothing new — presidents from both parties have long objected to U.N. resolutions critical of capital punishment. In December 2016, for example — in the final weeks of Obama’s presidency — the U.S. voted against a resolution urging states not to execute minors, pregnant women, and those with intellectual disabilities.
While last week’s vote is not evidence of any significant policy change, it does show what kind of company the U.S. keeps among nations that support the death penalty. Twelve other countries joined the United States in voting against the resolution, including Egypt, which executes political dissidents, Ethiopia, which is considering the death penalty for same-sex activity, and Saudi Arabia, which, in 2015, beheaded more people than the Islamic State .
A 2014 report by Amnesty International found that even though the death penalty in on the books in one-third of the world’s countries, only nine countries have regularly used it in past years — including Iran, Sudan, China, and North Korea. In other words, when the United States defends the death penalty, it defends the practice of some of the world’s worst human rights violators.
The U.S. Mission to the U.N. did not return a request for comment from The Intercept.