LGBT rights secured a major bureaucratic victory at the United Nations today when member states overwhelmingly voted down a Russian-backed proposal to curtail benefits afforded to the same-sex spouses of UN staff.
The vote failed by a margin of nearly 2:1. 77 countries voted against the bill, and only 44 supported it, while 36 abstained.
At issue was a directive issued last year by Ban Ki Moon to extend partner benefits to all United Nations staff in same sex unions, regardless of nationality. Previously, only spouses from countries where same sex unions are legal were afforded regular spouse benefits. Russia lodged an objection to this measure, which was finally put to a vote in the UN’s budget committee today.
The vote breakdown is particularly interesting. As expected, Russia was backed by socially conservative countries, mostly in the middle east and Asia. North America and Europe were all solidly opposed. Latin America titled against the measure. The swing votes in Africa and Asia, though, mostly tilted toward abstentions, thereby assuring the measure would fail. This is despite the fact that, particularly in Africa, opposition to LGBT rights is often a politically expedient wedge issue.