(NEW YORK - C-FAM) A heated debate took place today at the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, as member nations of the Commission considered an unprecedented proposal to expand the UN's definition of discrimination to include discrimination based upon "sexual orientation."
The resolution, introduced by Brazil and co-sponsored by 19 other nations, including most European nations and Canada, is the first resolution in UN history to link homosexuality with human rights law. One advocacy group, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, describes the resolution as "a historic opportunity to advance LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] issues in international human rights law."
The Resolution "Calls upon all states to promote and protect the human rights of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation" and for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "to pay due attention to the phenomenon of violations of human rights on the grounds of sexual orientation." It also "Expresses deep concern at the occurrence of violations of human rights in the world against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation."
In an effort to defeat this measure, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya and Malaysia have introduced amended resolutions in which all references to sexual orientation have been deleted. The United States, which is a member of the Commission, did not co-sponsor the original Brazilian resolution, nor did it introduce an amendment of its own.
Pro-family legal scholars are deeply concerned with the Brazilian proposal. A. Scott Loveless, associate professor of law at the World Family Policy Center at Brigham Young University, believes that "The remedy proposed may have worse societal implications than the alleged disease, which is so-called homophobia. It is highly likely that gay rights advocates will use this resolution, if it passes, to advance their agenda to legalize gay marriage and to create hate crimes legislation." Loveless notes that "in their quest to legitimize homosexuality, many of these countries have actually limited some of our most fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech. In Canada and Great Britain, people who have spoken out against homosexual behavior have been criminally prosecuted for speaking, not for actually harming anyone."
Jane Adolphe, assistant professor of law at Ave Maria Law School, believes that the resolution may be used against the Catholic Church. According to Adolphe, "This initiative opens the door for further attacks on the Church. With respect to the Commission, individuals could presumably use this discrimination language to bring complaints against the Church with regard to hiring, employment, even the doctrines of the Church, itself."
An official present at the meeting told the Friday Fax that it was "a difficult discussion, a heated discussion, because of the quite delicate subject matter, and the fact that this has never been discussed before." A vote on the resolution and its amendments will likely occur tomorrow.