19 Mar 2009

US changes stance on decriminalising homosexuality

9:29 pm on 19 March 2009

In a reversal of Bush-era policies, the United States says it will sign a United Nations declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalisation of homosexuality.

The State Department says the move shows that the US is a staunch defender of human rights throughout the world.

The document was first put in front of the General Assembly last December, when nearly 70 countries voted in favour. The US joined China, Russia and many Muslim countries in opposing it.

At the time, officials from the Bush administration said the document could conflict with US domestic laws, including the controversial policy of banning open homosexuals from the military.

However, officials from the new Obama administration say they do not believe this document puts the US under any international legal obligations.