UNITED NATIONS — Gay rights advocates scored a hard-fought victory at the UN on Tuesday when member states restored a reference to sexual orientation, dropped last month from a resolution opposing the unjustified killing of minority groups.
The removal of the reference, at the urging of African and Arab countries last month, alarmed human rights advocates who said gay people are among minority groups that need special protection from extrajudicial and other unjustified slayings. US Ambassador Susan Rice at the time said she was "incensed" by the change and announced she would sponsor the measure to restore the language.
The battle underscores the divide between UN members with their diverse religious and cultural sensibilities on gay rights issues and sparked something of a culture war at the international body.
Belgium, Finland and other Western nations spoke in favor of including sexual orientation. A coalition of African countries said it was "greatly alarmed" that the direct reference to sexual orientation was included, and called it an attempt "to create new rights, new standards or new groups."