The United Nations on Friday endorsed equal rights for gays, lesbians, and transgendered persons for the first time ever, a move that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Western leaders hailed as a historic moment.
"Today's landmark resolution affirms that human rights are universal. People cannot be excluded from protection simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity," Clinton said in a statement.
The U.N. Human Rights Council passed the carefully worded resolution by a narrow margin, 23-to-19, despite strong objections from African and Muslim countries, the Associated Press reports.
The non-binding resolution expresses “grave concern” over violence and discrimination against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It also commissions a study of discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world.
While the U.S., the European Union, and Brazil all backed the effort, the move drew strong criticism from Russia, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Pakistan, among others.
"We are seriously concerned at the attempt to introduce to the United Nations some notions that have no legal foundation," said Pakistan’s Zamir Akram.