The US is one of just 13 countries to have voted against a United Nations resolution condemning the death penalty for having gay sex.
Although the vote passed, America joined countries such as China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in opposing the move.
The Human Rights Council resolution condemned the “imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations”.
It attacked the use of execution against persons with “mental or intellectual disabilities, persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of the crime, and pregnant women”.
It also expressed “serious concern that the application of the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women”.
The US supported two failed amendments put forward by Russia, which stated the death penalty was not necessarily “a human rights violation” and that it is not a form of torture, but can lead to it “in some cases”.
And it abstained on a “sovereignty amendment” put forward by Saudi Arabia, that stated “the right of all countries to develop their own laws and penalties”.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) branded the amendments an attempt to “dilute its impact”.
Despite America’s opposition, the vote in Geneva passed with 27 of the 47-member Human Rights Council in favour.
There are currently six countries where the death penalty is used for people in same-sex relationships: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia. This number rises to eight if the Isis-occupied territories of Iraq and Syria are included.
There are another five countries where it is technically allowed, but not actually used in reality.
Renato Sabbadini, ILGA Executive Director, said. “It is unconscionable to think that there are hundreds of millions of people living in states where somebody may be executed simply because of whom they love.
“This is a monumental moment where the international community has publicly highlighted that these horrific laws simply must end.”
Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson, told The Independent: "The headlines, reporting and press releases on this issue are misleading. As our representative to the Human Rights Council in Geneva said on Friday, the United States is disappointed to have to vote against this resolution. We had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the positions of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully, as the United States does.
"The United States voted against this resolution because of broader concerns with the resolution’s approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances and calling for its abolition.
"The United States unequivocally condemns the application of the death penalty for conduct such as homosexuality, blasphemy, adultery and apostasy. We do not consider such conduct appropriate for criminalisation and certainly not crimes for which the death penalty would be lawfully available as a matter of international law."
The 13 states to oppose the resolution were Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the US and the United Arab Emirates.
The vote was introduced by eight countries - Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia and Switzerland – and supported by countries around the world including the UK, Congo, Kyrgyzstan and Bolivia.