By Samantha Singson

NEW YORK, December 6, 2007 ( – In a recently published UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) document on guidelines to discuss HIV/AIDS in UN publications, the organization attempts to use a backdoor approach to promote controversial new rights that have been explicitly rejected by UN member states. It also calls those who do not promote the agenda “derogatory” and “discriminatory.”  In particular, the UNESCO document uses a failed 2003 UN resolution to usher in the highly controversial term “sexual orientation” as part of UN human rights language.

Entitled “UNESCO Guidelines on Language and Content in HIV- and AIDS- Related Materials,” the organization launched the document with an aim to “provide guidance towards using uniform, correct, gender-sensitive, non-discriminatory and culturally-appropriate language that promotes universal human rights,” and to rid UN discourse of “problematic terminology.”

“Risky sex,”“promiscuous” and “prostitute” are discriminatory according to UNESCO, and should be replaced with “unprotected sex,”“having multiple partners” and “commercial sex worker”.   

Regarding the contentious term “sexual orientation,” the UNESCO document concedes that there is no UN resolution specifically on the topic, yet it cites the failed controversial Brazilian resolution that was introduced at the now-defunct UN Commission on Human Rights in 2003 as evidence of consensus on the matter.

The failed 2003 resolution attempted to make “sexual orientation” part of the list of otherwise well-established non-discrimination categories such as race, religion and sex. Despite heavy lobbying from homosexual rights groups such as the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), the measure met staunch resistance from states who feared that it could lead to the imposition of special legal rights based on “sexual orientation” and court-imposed homosexual “marriage” that would include jailing of religious leaders for speaking out against homosexuality.

Conservatives point out that UN resolutions and language on HIV / AIDS are the carefully crafted result of negotiations that seek to balance UN member states’ wide-ranging cultural norms. They view the UNESCO guidelines as yet another attempt to circumvent this process by changing or misinterpreting existing agreed terminology to fit a particular agenda.

They argue that member states cannot give real consent when the meaning of the words in the documents is constantly changing. In fact, the UNESCO document states, “As our collective experiences and knowledge on HIV and AIDS evolve, these Guidelines are to be considered as a living document to be updated regularly.” The conservatives are further concerned that the UNESCO document is meant to silence countries who promote traditional values on marriage and family in UN debates.

UNESCO is a specialized UN agency created with the mission to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture. For the 2-year period 2002-2003, the regular budget totaled US $544 million.

The United States withdrew from UNESCO in 1984, citing poor management and a divergence of values, but rejoined in 2003 and is currently the 10th largest bilateral donor to the organization.