By Samantha Singson
New York, October 28, 2010 (C-FAM) - Angry delegates took to the UN floor this week to denounce a report that promotes a new human right to explicit sexual education for young children.
The African and Caribbean blocs led the widespread hostility toward the report by registering their “strong rejection” and “strong disapproval.”
The report claims a new human right to sexual education citing non-binding recommendations and other UN reports including the controversial UNESCO guidelines on sexual education and the Yogyakarta Principles. The report's author, Victor Muñoz, argues that States have an obligation to ensure this new right “from the early stages of life.”
Bucking established procedure, Muñoz submitted his report to the UN without being present to defend his recommendations and analysis.
Muñoz pays lip service to the right of parents to choose their children’s education, which is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but adds “this authority may never run counter to the rights of children and adolescents.” According to Muñoz, comprehensive sexual education goes beyond simple biological or reproductive information.
Ignoring the ongoing heated debate at the UN over terms dealing with “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” Muñoz insists that sexual education include information on “sexual diversity.” Muñoz blasts abstinence programs, which he argues normalizes stereotypes and promotes discriminatory images because they are based on “heteronormativity.”
Muñoz added that denying the existence of lesbian, gay, transsexual, transgender and bisexual population exposes these groups to discrimination.
Though unable to address Muñoz directly, frustrated delegates representing Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Organization of Islamic Countries lined up to denounce the report. They criticized Muñoz’s single-handed attempt to redefine the human rights system and introduce controversial topics such as sexual orientation, sexuality education and gender identity as universally accepted concepts.
Malawi, on behalf of the African bloc, said there was “no universal agreement on the notions of sexual education.” Munoz's attempt to create a new right and reinterpret the existing understanding of human rights “flouted” the code of conduct, Malawi said. The African group expressed alarm at what it called Muñoz’s selective use of quotes from other UN documents, which do not constitute a “truthful reflection of objective facts.”
The Caribbean bloc also registered its “strong disapproval of this attempt by Muñoz to create a new right within the universally established right to education, far exceeding his mandate.” The Caribbean countries charged Muñoz with “indulging his personal interests at the expense” of delegations and demanded a re-written report that followed the guidelines set by the UN.
While many others - including Russia, South Africa, Morocco, the Arab Group, the Holy See and the United States - also denounced the assertion of a new right to comprehensive sexual education, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, and Argentina were supportive. The European Union “fully and wholeheartedly” expressed its support for Muñoz and his report.
The General Assembly took no action on the report this week, but it is expected to consider it again in December.
This article reprinted with permission from www.c-fam.org