The United Nations General Assembly has voted to restore a reference to sexual orientation in a resolution opposing the unjustified killings of minority groups.

Last month, a UN panel deleted a reference to gays and lesbians in resolution introduced by Morocco and Mali. The vast majority of countries in support were African or Arabic.

Many of the supporting countries criminalise homosexuality and five treat it as a capital offence.

But today, the UN General Assembly voted 93 in favour of the United States’ proposal to restore the reference to sexual orientation, 55 countries voted against and 27 abstained. The assembly then approved the amended resolution with 122 in favour, none against and 59 abstentions.

The amendment passed last month called for the words “sexual orientation” to be replaced with “discriminatory reasons on any basis”. The resolution made explicit reference to a large number of groups, including human rights defenders, religious and ethnic minorities and street children.

It narrowly passed 79-70 and was then approved by the UN General Assembly committee with 165 in favour and ten abstentions. The motion condemns extra-judicial, summary and arbitrary executions and other killings, is voted on by the UN General Assembly every two years. For the past ten years, it contained references to sexual orientation.