C-Fam Submission Calls Out Bias in LGBT Expert’s Religious Freedom Questionnaire

By | January 26, 2023

Victor Madrigal-Borloz

WASHINGTON, D.C. January 27 (C-Fam) The Center for Family and Human Rights (C-Fam), publisher of the Friday Fax, told the UN’s LGBT expert that freedom of religion and conscience are among the highest principles of international human rights law, while “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) remain poorly defined and legally controversial.

This submission came in response to a call from the UN’s SOGI expert, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, for his forthcoming report on the intersection of LGBT issues and freedom of religion or belief.

C-Fam pointed out that the right to marry and found a family, defined as the natural and fundamental group unit of society, is expressly protected in human rights law, but “sexual preferences and behavior are not protected by international human rights law outside of the right to freely marry and found a family.”

Madrigal-Borloz asked contributors to respond to a series of leading and biased questions that seemed to equate these issues and imply that religious practice or conscience might be curtailed in the name of preventing discrimination on the basis of SOGI.

One question asks how conscientious objection might have limited “the full enjoyment of the right to freedom from violence and discrimination” on the basis of SOGI.  Another question asks whether conscience claims are limiting access by LGBT-identified people to “goods and services” including “sexual and reproductive healthcare [and] provision of marriage licenses.”

This is not the first time the SOGI expert has taken aim at conservative religious beliefs and their adherents.  In a previous report, he said that “[s]tates should adopt decisive action when religious authorities, leaders or agents infringe on the rights of LGBT persons through violence and discrimination, including hate speech.”  As the concept of “hate speech” has become increasingly broad, simply quoting ancient religious texts like the Bible or preaching a sermon against sexual sins can result in legal penalties in some countries.

The creation of the SOGI expert’s mandate was controversial from its start in 2016.  It is clear that its purpose is to elevate SOGI issues alongside the fundamental human rights recognized by international consensus since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights seventy years ago.

Fundamental rights like the freedom of religion, the right to marry and found a family, and the right of parents to determine the education of their children, are meant to be interpreted as broadly as possible and limited only for valid reasons.

What has never been defined nor accepted as an international right is the concept of families based around same-sex couples.  Nevertheless, the SOGI expert recently told the government of Cambodia that upholding the rights of LGBT-identified people requires “the recognition of LGBT families through the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, the legal recognition of gender identity, and the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.”

The conflation of SOGI issues and international human rights being promoted by the SOGI expert have real consequences for people around the world.  Parents’ ability to teach their children in accordance with their faith and morals is being undermined by efforts to mandate “comprehensive sexuality education” that centers LGBT issues.

Similarly, efforts by UN human rights experts to limit conscientious objection by healthcare providers with regard to abortion will likely expand to so-called “gender-affirming” hormones and surgeries.  The UN’s special rapporteur on the right to health has already described such things as a right.