The Washington Times - December 19, 2008, 07:15PM

Gay Republicans are furious at the Bush administration for opposing a non-binding U.N. resolution calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality around the world, alongside such abusers of human rights as Syria and Saudi Arabia.

The document was introduced in the U.N. General Assembly by France and the Netherlands and so far has been backed by 66 of the 192 members of the United Nations. It urges countries “to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention.”

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Homosexuality is illegal in 77 countries, seven of which punish it by death, according to the resolution’s sponsors. Some of those states offered a rival document that gathered about 60 signatures. It said the original text “delves into matters which fall essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of states” and could lead to “the social normalization, and possibly the legitimization, of many deplorable acts including pedophilia.”

The Bush administration, after intense lobbying by Catholics and hard-line conservatives, did not support France’s draft, which was backed by all 27 European Union members. The administration cited legal reason for its decision, saying that endorsing the resolution’s language is in conflict with U.S. laws, a reference to gay marriage.

But “that’s a huge stretch,” said Richard Grenell, a gay Republican who until recently was a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations. “Concerns about a remote possibility (marriage) ignores the purpose of the resolution, which is to make sure that people are not killed or oppressed just because they are gay.”

A true conservative, Mr. Grenell said, is “always interested in less government involvement and more personal responsibilities.”

“If being gay is a criminal act, then the State Department has granted hundreds of criminals like me top-secret security clearance,” he said. “Common sense says that we should be the leader in making sure other governments grant more freedoms to their people.”

U.S. diplomats said that supporting a non-binding resolution in defense of human rights should have been relatively easy for the administration and would have sent an important message a month before President Bush leaves office. But they also wondered why France did not wait another month to introduce the document, which most likely would have been endorsed by the incoming Obama administration.

“Perhaps the French wanted to embarrass the Bush administration,” one diplomat said.

 

— Nicholas Kralev, diplomatic correspondent, The Washington Times