GENEVA - Brushing aside high-level UN appeals for cooperation to halt murder and violence against gays and lesbians around the globe, Muslim and Arab countries on Wednesday stalked out of a Human Rights Council panel to tackle the issue.
Speaking before the walkout for the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Pakistan described homosexuality as "licentious behavior" while African group leader Senegal said it was not covered by global human rights accords.Nigeria - where gay rights groups say there have been many attacks on male and female homosexuals - declared none of its citizens was at risk of violence because of sexual orientation or gender identity before it too left the chamber.
And Mauritania, for the Arab group, all of whose members are also in the OIC, said attempts to impose "the controversial topic of sexual orientation" would undermine discussion in the council of all genuine human rights problems.
The walkout, which diplomats said not all countries in the Islamic and African groups joined, was the first by three major blocs in the 47-member council, which has been dominated until recently by a caucus of developing countries and their allies.
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