India Votes With Pakistan, Saudi Arabia to Block Gay Rights at UN

India Votes With Pakistan, Saudi Arabia to Block Gay Rights at UN

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United Nations:

India was among 43 countries that voted on Tuesday against benefits for same sex couples working for the UN by backing a Russian-drafted resolution. The foreign ministry today justified India's stand saying countries were "not consulted" on the plan.

The resolution was defeated with 80 nations rejecting it and 37 countries abstaining, which means the UN can now extend benefits to partners of gay employees. The idea was proposed by UN Secy Gen Ban Ki Moon last July.

In voting against gay rights, India has joined socially conservative countries like Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria.

Foreign ministry officials say India's only option was to vote in favour of the Russian resolution since homosexuality is a crime in the country.

In 2013, the Supreme Court had reinstated a colonial era ban on gay sex in India, and left it to Parliament to change the law. Several groups have petitioned against it.

"The UN had as of until recently a system whereby they would decide on benefits for partners or spouses depending on the law of the country from where individual hailed. Then the UN Secretary General changed it of his own accord. Our objection was against the change by the secretariat without consulting countries," said a ministry spokesperson.

Under a new policy in place since June, the UN recognizes same-sex couples married in a country where it is legal, regardless of their nationality.

The foreign ministry said, "It's a complex issue of if nationals are governed by national laws or governed by others."

The US has said the "vote should never have happened" as it sets a dangerous precedent in challenging the UN Secretary-General's authority to make administrative decisions and also reflects hostility to gay rights.

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