Homosexual Activist to Head European Rights Organization
NEW YORK, October 9 (C-Fam) The European Union’s official human rights advisory body appointed a prominent homosexual rights activist as its director this week, signaling a more aggressive stance against European laws and policies protecting the natural family.
Michael O’Flaherty, professor of human rights at the University of Nottingham in the UK and a laicized Catholic priest, was selected for a five-year term on the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), renewable for three years.
O’Flaherty was the Irish representative to the UN Human Rights Committee from 2004 to 2012. He leveraged his UN position to co-author the contentious 2006 document “Yogyakarta Principles” which reinterpret UN treaties with new obligations based upon “sexual orientation and gender identity.”
While not binding on nations, activists have used the document to target laws protecting natural marriage. In the years leading up to Argentina’s legalization of homosexual marriage in 2010, the Yogyakarta Principles were cited in seven enacted or pending laws, and four resolutions from Argentina’s National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism according to a 2010 paper by Paula Ettelbrick and Alia Trabucco Zerán. The authors found extensive use of the document’s definitions of the term “gender identity” and/or “sexual orientation” including adoption by UN human rights monitoring bodies, UN agencies, government ministries in Ecuador, Uruguay, and Canada, and it found courts citing the Yogyakarta Principles in legal decisions in India, Nepal, and the Philippines.
The FRA is billed as a neutral think-tank providing data, surveys, handbooks, and social science studies to the European institutions, governments, national human rights committees, and international bodies such as the UN. Headquartered in Vienna, the agency has a staff of 105 and an annual budget of 21 million Euro (US$24 million) funded by the European Union (EU). Some governments questioned the establishment of the FRA in 2007 since the issue of human rights was already monitored by an EU agency.
Critics are concerned that the FRA is too aggressive in promoting homosexual issues over its other priorities. The agency is supposed to comment on broad thematic issues such as migrants, children, and victims of crime and not on particular national cases.
It has intervened in the past, however, such as when it condemned a Lithuanian law that protected children against homosexual propaganda. When the European Parliament asked its opinion on a draft EU law against discrimination based on “sexual orientation” in hiring and health care, the FRA went much further.
It said EU law should be interpreted to hold countries, in which there is no registered-partnership or “gay marriage” legislation, accountable for treating people in these arrangements as married couples. It also called for mandatory national “equality bodies” endowed with “quasi-adjudicatory functions” that could issue “binding sanctions or orders, subject to review by courts,” and EU regulation that would make “homophobic hate speech a criminal offense.”
In 2012, the agency conducted what it lauds as the largest-ever survey on discrimination against homosexuals, which included 93,000 respondents. Critics point out that it is based upon non-verifiable anonymous online interviews and excluded any respondents that did not identify as “LGBT.” Nonetheless, the survey continues to inform reports that European Parliament uses to regulate policy.
Some critics of the FRA see a silver lining in O’Flaherty’s appointment.
“I actually think it is a good development, in the sense that with this man as director nobody will be able to pretend that the FRA is an institution that needs to be taken seriously,” a source close to the European Commission told the Friday Fax.
The European legal expert added, “So, yes, things will become more difficult . . . for the FRA.”