LGBT advocacy comes back strong in United Nations negotiations

Countries have witnessed a strong resurgence of LGBT advocacy in UN General Assembly negotiations.
Fri Oct 30, 2020 - 7:36 pm EST
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Emma Lucek /

NEW YORK, October 30 (C-Fam) — Countries have witnessed a strong resurgence of LGBT advocacy in UN General Assembly negotiations.

The European Union, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Nordic countries, and the United Kingdom aggressively promoted the contested category of “sexual orientation and gender identity” (SOGI) in UN negotiations this week. They asked to incorporate SOGI in UN resolutions on the protection of children from bullying, and the right to privacy.

It is unclear if historic opposition to SOGI from the Holy See, majority Muslim countries, as well as African and Caribbean nations will be sufficient to block them. The complaint from many governments is that special rights for LGBTs tend to trump other well-established rights like freedom of religion.

The progressive countries were especially adamant about the inclusion of language about data collection on bullying disaggregated by sexual orientation and gender identity, an effort supported by the United States.

Experts question whether sexual orientation and gender identity are categories capable of generating reliable data. Scientifically and legally, they are fluid and subjective categories. And surveys about discrimination on the basis of LGBT status are widely known in the statistical community to be limited and biased.

But the consequences of adopting such language are clear. Turning sexual orientation and gender identity into UN statistical categories will legitimize the work of the UN system to incorporate LGBT issues in the 2030 agenda. And it will translate into pressure from UN agencies and international donors to establish offices to track LGBT data and to promote LGBT policies in every country.

The resolution on protecting children from bullying sponsored by Mexico came as a surprise to many delegates this year. Delegates are strained by the unusual working methods and virtual negotiations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it was last adopted in 2018, with the understanding that it was a one-off resolution that would not be presented again.

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From the first time it was presented, many countries thought bullying was not a topic meriting a stand-alone resolution. Others saw it as an attempt to promote LGBT issues. The General Assembly rejected the inclusion of language about sexual orientation and gender identity in the resolution on bullying all three previous times it was negotiated in 20142016, and 2018.

Also, this year, Germany and Brazil, sponsors of the resolution on the right to privacy, added language on “sexual orientation and gender identity.” This was also a surprise given that Brazil, whose president, Jair Bolsnaro of Brazil has been outspoken against the LGBT agenda, including in the UN General Assembly.

Until now the only General Assembly resolution to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity is a resolution on extrajudicial killings. The inclusion of the category is contested by over 50 countries and even that resolution is supported by less than half of the General Assembly.

These debates will be a measure of how much leeway the LGBT agenda receives at the United Nations going forward. There is no international treaty defining any human rights or their application based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The more resolutions are colonized by the new category, the more legitimacy it gains. With more legitimacy, the terms are likely to rapidly expand to other areas of UN policy.

Published with permission from C-Fam.

  c-fam, homosexuality, sogi laws, transgenderism, united nations

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