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BREAKING: UN Votes To RESTORE “Sexual Orientation” To Anti-Execution Resolution



Five weeks ago today, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people were subjected to homophobia and religious and cultural extremism, thanks to a United Nations vote that removed “sexual orientation” from an ongoing resolution that protects people from arbitrary executions. Yes, the UN General Assembly on November 16 had in fact voted to allow LGBT people to be executed without cause.

Today, after a reported gas-leak forced evacuation of the building, a vote to restore the term “sexual orientation” to the UN General Assembly resolution on extra judicial executions is taking place, with U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice leading the effort.

Today, the UN voted in favor of restoring “sexual orientation” to the UN General Assembly resolution on extra judicial executions, by a margin of 109-41, with 35 abstentions.

The UN General Assembly’s Third Committee vote to remove the term “sexual orientation” from a draft resolution on extrajudicial killings last month won by a slim seven vote margin, 79 to 70, (17 abstentions and 26 absent,) but support for the final version of the resolution won with a lopsided victory at 165 votes in support and 10 absentions, one of which included the United States.

South African political leaders wielding religious fundamentalism, aided by Mormon and Christian Fundamentalists, including “The Family,” were behind the UN Vote allowing gays to be executed without cause.

“We are going to fight to restore the reference to sexual orientation,” Ambassador Rice said.  “We’re going to stand firm on this basic principle.  And we intend to win.”

Rice delivered a passionate statement about the UN General Assembly (UNGA) vote that stripped out “sexual orientation” for the first time in 10 years, to a UN LGBT group on Dec. 10, commemorating International Human Rights Day.

“Here at the United Nations, like many of you, I was incensed by the recent vote in the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which eliminated any mention of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from a resolution condemning extrajudicial killing of vulnerable people around the world.  We fought hard for that reference when it came to the Committee vote, and we lost.  But we’re not done yet.  The resolution now goes to the full General Assembly.  For countries that voted in the Commitee to keep the reference to sexual orientation, we thank you.  For countries that haven’t yet done so, we urge you to join us. And for countries that have supported this reference in the past but charged course this year, we urge you to stand  again with us and with all vulnerable people around the world at risk of violence.”

Last month, U.K. gay rights and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell called it “a shameful day in United Nations history.”

A winning outcome was not assured, according to Mark Bromley, chair of the Council for Global Equality. Bromley also had said the “vote count is looking better, but it is going to be very, very, very close.”

During today’s vote, Belgium, representing the European Union said the restoration “significantly improves” the text of the resolution. The Nordic countries representative said they were “deeply disappointed” by the removal of the term “sexual orientation,” and added, “No one should be killed because of their sexual orientation.” Canada added a request to include “gender identity” to the text. Argentina and Mexico spoke in support of adding the term back into the resolution also, saying, “We’re not demanding that this group enjoy greater protections,” but, “every year there are people executed for reasons of their sexual orientation.”

Suggesting LGBT peoples are weak and invited discrimination, the United Arab Emirates spoke at length, and said it “rejects firmly” the “controversial” statement that has “no legal foundation.”

The African Group representative said they were “gravely alarmed” with the “undefined notion of sexual orientation,” and called the attempt to restore the term a “systematic attempt to create new rights,” and  said it would “jeopardize the entire human rights framework… to achieve narrow political gain.”

In a major switch, South Africa voted for the resolution, after having voted to remove sexual orientation from the resolution last month. Rowanda also spoke very eloquently. But Zimbabwe, calling the text “adventurism,” also likened homosexuality to bestiality and said “individual proclivities should be just that.”

A significant effort had been launched by the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office LGBT Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity project, who hosted its second UN consultation meeting on Dec. 13, in concert with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation and the Union Theological Seminary and 40 leaders of faith, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and LGBT activists to discuss the UNGA vote and the increasingly hostile environment for LGBT people in Eastern Africa.

According to Ryan Ubuntu Olson, the Unitarian’s LGBT-SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity) director, there has been a lot of concern at the UN about how a negative vote by the UNGA that would not restore “sexual orientation” to the resolution would affect other efforts to advance LGBT rights at the UN.

“Many people are worried and it is not clear how the votes are going to go,” Olson said.

In response and support of Ambassador Rice’s efforts, the UN Faith Coalition for LGBT Human Rights issued a resolution on Dec. 18th which “fully affirms and supports the proposed actions of Ambassador Rice … to restore the prohibition of the violent targeting and extrajudicial killing of people who are vulnerable because of their sexual orientation.”  The resolution also urges UN member states to abstain from the vote to restore “sexual orientation” if they can not support it.

ARC International and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission have also been organizing NGO activists who have been working the vote to restore “sexual orientation” to the UNGA resolution. For more information on the UN vote and to learn more about organizing for UN LGBT related issues go to the ARC website.

Editor’s note: Tomorrow we will post the audio of the vote. Stay tuned!

Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs atColumbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Instituteaffiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.

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‘Thinly-Veiled Incitement to Violence and Overt Racism’: Trump’s Truth Social Post Sparks Outrage



Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” but on Friday night took his social media approach to his Truth Social website.

Trump accused Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell of having a “death wish” after a government shutdown was averted.

“Must immediately seek help and advise (sic) from his China loving wife, Coco Chow!” he said of Elaine Chao, who served in his cabinet for four years as Secretary of Transportation.

Trump’s post generated outrage online.

“Nothing to see here,” conservative lawyer George Conway tweeted. “Just a former president of the United States seeking to incite violence against the minority leader of the United States Senate and launching a racist verbal attack on the leader’s wife.”

Former federal prosecutor Shanlon Wu wrote, “Donald Trump using blatant racist tactics in his desperate attacks on McConnell by trying to ridicule Asian American former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao’s name calling her ‘Coco Chow’ — [McConnell] and [GOP] should call him out and reject his racist hate — will they do it?”

“Hardly shocking that Trump would threaten Mitch McConnell by capitalizing the words ‘death wish’ — dog whistle invitation to Trump’s extremist supporters — same Trump who believed his own VP Pence deserved to be lynched by the angry Jan. 6 mob Trump incited to violence,” Wu added.

Janai Nelson, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, wrote, “I double dare all major media outlets to call this what it is: thinly-veiled incitement to violence and overt racism.”

Podcaster Fred Wellman said, “Elaine Chao was Trump’s Secretary of Transportation for 4 years and he just called her the ridiculously racist nickname ‘Coco Chow.’ Yes…you are a racist if you still support this broken *sshole.”

Jonah Goldberg, the editor-in-chief of The Dispatch, wrote, “Look, I think the gross bigotry, stupidity, dishonesty, and demagoguery of this is obvious on so many levels and I’m embarrassed for the country. But, because no one else will, I feel I have to point out he also misspelled advice.”


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Republicans suggest defunding Veteran Affairs even though it helps 9 million vets



Republican legislators are starting to suggest defunding the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the office founded in 1989 to assist with veteran needs. The VA assists with getting veterans mental and physical healthcare, educational opportunities, community support, and other everyday housing and living needs.

An Arizona legislator, captured on video participating in a mock congressional hearing, said he supported shutting down the department.

“That’s sort of what I’m thinking because … I hear no good stories. I had zero in my district,” the legislator said in a video posted by the far-right watchdog group Patriot Takes. “So I guess it’s a matter of us leading the fight to defund it.”

A second video, posted by the same account, showed Republican Florida Representative Matt Gaetz advocating for defunding the VA while speaking at an event held by FreedomWorks, a conservative and libertarian advocacy group.

“This is my question to the group. Is it savable? Why not abolish the VA, take all of the money that we are otherwise spending and go to an any willing provider system inside of our communities?” Gaetz says in the video. “And then, if people get bad care, they can vote with their feet and you don’t have a two-tier system of healthcare in this country with our veterans and then with everyone else.”

Generally speaking, Republican policies favor the privatization of all government functions, thinking that a “small government,” “free-market,” “for-profit” privatization provided by a corporation can solve any market ill.

In reality, if entire communities are deprived of VA access, U.S. military veterans will be left largely on their own to get their life needs met after military service. Those who lack money or transportation won’t be able to “vote with their feet” and find a local care provider to handle their specific issues… they’ll either have to spend massive amounts to get such essential care or just go without.

In late July, 41 Senate Republicans voted against a bill aimed at protecting veterans exposed to toxic materials during their military service. The legislation would have expanded care to 3.5 million veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. It would have also added 23 toxic and burn pit exposure-related illnesses to the VA database, Newsweek reported.

After massive blowback, Senate Republicans re-voted on the bill and helped it pass.

Patriot Takes posted the video hoping that it would encourage veterans and military members to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections.

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Red states are lining up to stop Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan



Six red states — Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and South Carolina — are suing the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden over Biden’s plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student loan debt for individuals making less than $125,000 a year.

The Biden administration based its plan on a 2003 law. According to the Justice Department, the law, initially meant to help military members, says that Biden can reduce or erase student loan debts during times of national emergency.

The red states’ lawsuit, filed Thursday in Missouri, said that Biden’s plan was “not remotely tailored to address the effects of the pandemic on federal student loan borrowers.” The lawsuit adds that, since Biden recently declared the COVID-19 pandemic as over, he can’t use it as a justification for his wide-scale debt relief plan, ABC News reported.

“It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college,” Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said of her state’s lawsuit. “The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”

The states argued that Biden’s plan inflicted a “number of ongoing financial harms” to student loan providers and also “will ultimately disrupt revenue to state coffers.” They also argued that Biden’s plan violates the Administrative Procedure Act, a law regulating how federal agencies ensure that presidential policies are well-reasoned and explained, the aforementioned publication reported.

Despite these claims, the White House has said it will continue with its plan, confident it can survive a court challenge.

“Republican officials from these six states are standing with special interests, and fighting to stop relief for borrowers buried under mountains of debt,” White House spokesman Abdullah Hasan said Thursday. “The president and his administration are lawfully giving working and middle class families breathing room as they recover from the pandemic and prepare to resume loan payments in January.”

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