Chicago, March 23, 2004 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Babette Francis is the president and National & Overseas Coordinator of the Endeavour Forum, Australia’s leading pro-life, pro-family lobby organization. She and her husband, Charles appeared on March 20 at the Cardinal Mindszenty conference in Chicago. The Mindszenty Foundation conferences have been occurring for 25 years in Chicago and serves as a forum for pro-family and pro-life thinkers to gather and exchange ideas.
Francis is a prolific writer and speaker on all areas of life and family and has spoken in Australia, North America and Europe. She has been lobbying at the United Nations since 1980.
LifeSiteNews.com had an exclusive interview with her after her organization’s presentation at the conference on “The Culture of Life at the UN” where Francis spoke of the UN’s deconstruction of the concept of gender.LifeSite: What is the Endeavour Forum? Francis: We are a Christian pro-life, pro-family lobby which is basically opposed to feminism. We define feminism in its contemporary political sense as women and men who believe that there aren’t any differences between sexes other than the obvious biological and that all the differences in adult life between men and women are caused either by social conditioning or by discrimination.
We believe that men and women are equal but different and that the differences in their adult lives are due to the choices men and women make and their choices are different.
LifeSite: What do you mean by “deconstructing gender,” and what does it have to do with the UN?Francis: At the women’s conference Beijing +5 in 1995 there was a big furor about defining gender. One of the delegates from Nicaragua, their minister for family, wanted gender defined as males and females, the normal understanding of how human beings come in two kinds. The debate went along the lines that gender was a socially malleable construct and that human beings couldn’t be restricted to male and female, that they were along a continuous spectrum and that there were all kinds of genders. They were up to five at that time. They may be up to seven or eleven by now. There were asexual, homosexual, bisexual, hermaphrodite, transvestite, transgendered. And the “transgendered” further divided into those who have had the hormones but not the surgery, those who have had both hormones and surgery, and those who have had the surgery but are not happy and want to go back. LifeSite: What’s the difference between what you define as “gender” feminism, which now defines these five to eleven genders, and what feminism meant at the time of the Suffragettes. Francis: I think feminists at that time were fighting for equal rights, the right to vote, the right to own property, equal rights in a divorce situation. Those are what I call “equity” feminists. But then you have the “liberation” feminists from the nineteen sixties on, from Betty Freidan’s time and the “Feminist Mystique.” They wanted to be liberated from the role of mother and homemaker. The early feminists supported the role of mother and homemaker. They were against alcohol; they were very much temperance women. They wanted to protect mothers and children. The “reproductive rights” feminists from the nineteen fifties on wanted to liberate women from the home and the role of motherhood and they wanted choice in pregnancy; the choice to “terminate” their pregnancies and the right to birth control.
Then you have the “gender feminists,” who are a more recent phenomenon. These believe that women would not be oppressed if there were no such thing as women. In other words, they want to eliminate the division of human beings into men and women and have an infinite number of genders all along the political spectrum and that one should be able to go back and forth between them at will.LifeSite: This doesn’t seem to have much to do with objective, physical reality. Francis: It started with the old “nature vs. nurture” debate, whether it was genes or environment that had the most influence on the development of a child. But that has been extended to the belief that it is not just genes and environment that develop a character, but that society has a control about whether he is “he or she”. It has gone a stage further.
A person’s chromosomes identify whether they are male of female. In some tragic cases a person can be born with both male and female genitalia or with organs that don’t develop properly. But your genitals are not what makes you male or female. For the vast majority of people, basing sexual reality on that kind of anomaly is not rational. But these “gender feminists” used these cases to say that we have got to get all these “genders” into the mainstream and to be not just tolerant but positively supportive and to promote these things.
In fact, one feminist made the extraordinary remark that “I think that true liberation will be achieved when I don’t know and don’t care about the sex of the person I am marrying.” In other words women would not be oppressed if there were no such thing as women. LifeSite: What possible political advantage could there be in inventing eleven genders, or even in the idea of liberation feminism for the elimination of family life? Francis: I guess the advantage they are looking for is financial. There’s no doubt that a stable family, that of a husband and wife, living with their biological children, do much better financially. The children do much better educationally and for employment purposes than those in a dysfunctional family where there is either divorce or whether there is a homosexual couple or where there is some form of family breakdown.
The feminists are angry about this and jealous in a way, so they are trying to make up for the natural advantage that a good family structure has by saying that we want all those rights as well. The right to special recognition in the taxation system for example. Or the government bonus or tax deductions one might get for having children. They want to take natural benefits that flow from a well-functioning family and try and translate that not only to single mothers but to a group of people who don’t want to accept the responsibilities and restrictions of family life but want all the advantages of family life at the same time.LifeSite: What kind of real influence does the UN have on sovereign states? Francis: The influence that it has is that it passes a lot of treaties and plans of action and programs of activities which are codified into what they call international law. And when courts in places like Australia or the US make decisions they take into account what the United Nations has determined under these “Human Rights” treaties.
For example, in the recent case, in the US, Lawrence vs. Texas, (November 18, 2003, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law against homosexual sex, see the LifeSiteNews.com coverage at http://www.LifeSite.net/ldn/2003/jun/03062702.html) They took into account that Mary Robinson of the UN had said that sexual orientation should be recognized as a human right.
LifeSite: So it is not an abstract thing; the UN does have very significant influence in the day-to-day internal activities of independent states. Francis: Yes, in Australia it had an influence in a case where a single woman wanted to have IVF treatment whereas it is the law in Victoria that IVF is only available to married couples or to de facto (“common law”) couples. This woman took her case and said that under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against women, (CEDAW) which said that you could not discriminate on the basis of marital status, she was entitled to IVF as well. And so, IVF became available to single women and lesbians.LifeSite: What about marriage and family issues like the recent decision by the Quebec court that there must be homosexual marriage and we must call it that?Francis: Mary Robinson, the former chairman of the UN Human Rights Commission, said that we have to recognize sexual orientation without discrimination. And this goes back to the gender issue that I raised before because it’s not just homosexuals who are wanting “marriage”. Even if a country goes to the defence of marriage with something like the marriage amendment, you still have to define what you mean by a man and a woman.
There have been some strange cases. In Florida, there was the case of Linda and Michael Kantaras. Linda and Michael were both women. Michael was born Margot Kantaras and had a double mastectomy and “married” Linda. When it came time to be divorced, Linda said that she wasn’t married in the first place because Michael was actually Margot and was a woman. But the judge found that Margot/Michael was legally a man and did eventually give custody to Michael of their two children. One of these being Linda’s biological child with another man and the other, one that was gained through artificial insemination with sperm donated by Michael/Margot’s brother.
In the Australian case, the judge found that you don’t have to necessarily have the hormones and the surgery. If you think of yourself as a man and a sufficient number of people accept that you are a man, then you are a man. So even if you pass a defense of marriage act, if two homosexuals came up and said, well, I think of myself as a man and she’s a woman, but they are both females, they could get a marriage license. This is why you have to watch definitions very carefully: marriage is defined as being between a man and a woman and defining what those are according
to the chromosomes.LifeSite: How much of this has come from the top down? Is it a matter of the intellectual elites forcing the changes onto individual nations or is it groups from some countries forcing ideas into the agenda of the UN? Francis: The developing countries at the UN are quite innocent of this. Although they have a lot of problems of poverty they are not the ones responsible. This has grown out of the heads of avante guarde feminists in American universities. People like Betty Friedan and Bela Abzug. CEDAW came from a document originally promulgated in the Soviet Union and modified by Bela Abzug. LifeSite: What can people do? There are ordinary people who hear about the eleven genders and wonder how it could have gone so far. Francis: You can monitor your own country’s delegation. You can ask to see the documents. Examine them and ask for clarifications on language. You can make a submission to the delegation on what you think they should do. LifeSite: So there is public input in these delegations?Francis: Not really. Most people don’t know there is a delegation. They don’t know who is on it. And reading this stuff can be terribly boring. People would rather let the official people take care of it and watch Seinfeld.
These activists who are moving this are people with an agenda. They’ve aborted their children, they’ve dumped their partners and this is their life.
They’ve got nothing else.
Babette Francis may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org