At the United Nations, 66 of the 192 member states signed a declaration against prosecution of homosexuals on Thursday. The document, which was created on the initiative of France and the Netherlands, among others, opposes the fact that homosexuality is classified as a criminal offence in many countries of the world.
Above all, the declaration condemns violence and death sentences against homosexuals. In more than 70 countries of the world homosexuality is punishable, in some even under death penalty. The legally non-binding "Declaration on Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity" has been signed by all 27 EU member states, as well as by Japan, Brazil and Israel. The great powers USA, Russia and China as well as most of the states of Asia and Africa have not joined in. Reservations or opposition to the paper were expressed by the Holy See and several Arab states. The Vatican on Friday again condemned any form of discrimination against homosexuals and called for an end to prosecutions. At the same time, the Vatican's UN representation criticized the New York Declaration of 66 states. It is misleading and clearly goes beyond its actual goal, it says. Internationally, it leads to legal uncertainty and calls into question previous declarations of human rights. In particular, the terms "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" are misleading, the Vatican statement says. They would find no recognition and no clear definition in international legislation; their translation and use would lead to a series of legal uncertainties. It would also hinder the ability of states to implement existing or formulate new human rights standards, according to the Vatican's assessment. The U.S. government said it could not fix things nationwide that were the responsibility of U.S. states. Civil rights activists criticized this attitude, which I hope the future Obama administration will reconsider. The Vatican representative to the UN, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, had already objected in advance that such a regulation could pillory or put prere on states that do not recognize a union between persons of the same sex as a marriage. The attitude of the Vatican had provoked protests among others of the European Parliament.