Though a coalition of socially conservative nations last month defeated an effort to add sexual orientation and gender identity as non-discrimination categories to a United Nations resolution, the vote showed that most traditionally Catholic nations aligned with socially “progressive” nations.
A coalition centered in Africa, the Islamic world and parts of the English-speaking Caribbean defeated a coalition led by European Union states, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) reports in its Friday Fax.
However, these “global north” countries were joined by Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and the Philippines in voting to retain a reference to a treaty General Comment that contained non-discrimination provisions concerning gender identity and sexual orientation.
C-FAM says the terms are controversial because they are not clearly defined and have never been approved in a legally-binding document. The terms are favored by activists promoting a “broad homosexual rights agenda.”
Some critics of the terms contend that once the designations are accepted as non-discrimination categories, a legal right would be created that would trump traditional free speech and religious liberties. They point to cases in Sweden, Canada and the United States.
At the 1995 Beijing Women’s Conference Latin American delegates, especially from Central America, defeated expansive definitions of the word “gender.” In recent years their delegations have been dominated by delegates more friendly to cultural agendas that C-FAM says “regularly meet with resistance at home.”
C-FAM notes that the Dominican Republic recently amended its constitution to protect the traditional definition of marriage. In the Philippines a bill seeking to penalize discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has languished in the legislature, causing its proponents to call for internal and international pressure for its passage.
The U.N. coalitions on these issues are still mildly fluid. Cuba and Nicaragua voted to delete the contested reference while Brazil and Bolivia abstained and Venezuela absented itself.
C-FAM says that sources speculate their positions may in part reflect solidarity among developing nations rather than their evaluations of the resolution’s merits. One delegate told C-FAM that the Europeans were “overconfident” before the vote and discounted the resentment that heavy-handed advocacy of novel norms can cause.