Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute | Samantha Singson | July 19, 2007
(NEW YORK — C-FAM) Claiming that “the tide has turned” in favor of homosexual rights at international institutions, University of British Columbia professor Douglas Sanders’ recent paper on “Sexual Orientation in International Law” published by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) includes a detailed history on how homosexual rights have advanced in Europe and how the European example could be followed at the United Nations.
Sanders, the first openly gay individual to address the UN and deliver a speech on homosexual issues, concedes that “sexual orientation” and “gender identity are not mentioned in any of existing international human rights instruments” but that “through invoking provisions on personal privacy and general provisions on equality,” homosexuals have been able to gain some recognition in the international human rights arena. Many Member States of the UN would disagree with Sanders analysis. The European Union is another story, though.
According to Sanders analysis of the EU, two essential elements have laid the foundation for the advancement of the homosexual agenda: the repeal of any anti-homosexual criminal laws and the prohibition of discrimination. With these two elements in place, Sanders details a progression of homosexual rights in the realms of parental custody, inheritance laws, immigration rights for same-sex partners, government-sponsored educational programs against any criticism of homosexuality in schools as well as paving the way for cases challenging laws against same-sex unions and homosexual adoption.
Homosexuals have not been so successful, however, at the United Nations. After repeated attempts, homosexual rights activists have failed to gain inclusion of “sexual orientation” on the non-discrimination category list in UN documents and conferences. Only one UN resolution, on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions, includes an explicit reference to the term.
While no existing international human rights instrument explicitly recognizes “sexual orientation,” UN bodies such as the Human Rights Committee have interpreted terms such as “other status” and “sex” to include it. Activists have brought discrimination cases before the committee in attempts to secure recognition of same-sex unions using the “right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family.”
The most high profile attempt to introduce “sexual orientation” into the UN system, a resolution on “Human Rights and Sexual Orientation” introduced by Brazil at the 2003 Commission on Human Rights, failed after strong opposition. In condemning it, the Pakistani delegate, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), called it an attempt “to develop norms which directly contradict fundamental value systems.” The incident is indicative of the deep divide on the issue between the EU, Canada and Brazil on one hand, and the OIC, Africa, and much of Latin America on the other.
Pro-family groups note that “sexual orientation” is not part of any binding UN document and warn that homosexual activists would use a non-discrimination clause in a UN document to argue for recognition of same-sex “marriage” and for hate crimes legislation. Muslim and Christian groups fear that accepting the term “sexual orientation” could deny religious faiths the freedom to criticize the homosexual lifestyle.
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