Saudi Arabia is insisting the UN removes gay rights from the organisation’s Global Goals, saying it is “counter to Islamic law”.
The protest comes from the Saudi Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, who told the UN General Assembly that “mentioning sex in the text, to us, means exactly male and female. Mentioning family means consisting of a married man and woman,” AP reported.
He stated Saudi Arabia has the right not to follow any agenda that runs “counter to Islamic law”.
The Sustainable Development Goals program sets a series of “ambitious targets” for the UN’s 193 member states, related to poverty, equality and ending climate change.
However, overt references to LGBT equality were removed from the final agreement, Pink News reports.
The goals pledge to ensure that “human rights and fundamental freedoms are enjoyed by all, without discrimination on grounds of race, ethnicity, colour, sex, age, language, religion, culture, migration status, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic situation, birth, disability or other status.”
Homosexuality is illegal under Sharia law in Saudi Arabia and punishments for those engaging in same-sex relationships include execution, chemical castration and imprisonment.
The United Nations was criticised recently for handing Saudi Arabia a key human rights role, despite its record on human rights abuses and freedoms for women, minorities and dissidents.
Faisal bin Hassan Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador at the UN was elected as chair of a panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council. He has said calls for Saudi Arabia to support rights for same-sex couples were “unacceptable” and a “flagrant interference in its internal affairs”.