Iulia Elena Cazan
(ZENIT News – Center for Family and Human Rights / New York, 10.12.2023).- The Biden administration has asked UN agencies and other governments to ramp up efforts against what they have called “anti-rights” and “anti-gender” movements.
The statement, joined by Belgium and Macedonia, came at a meeting on discrimination against women. Patrick Breen, the U.S. Adviser for the Third Committee, called for a future UN report to “address the negative effects of the anti-rights and anti-gender movements on the advancement of gender equity and equality.” The U.S. delivered a similar statement at UN Informal Negotiations held in Geneva.
These were not the only instances when member states used the “anti-rights” rhetoric at the UN. In September, at a “feminist foreign policy” event hosted by the Permanent Missions of France, Germany, and Netherlands, the French government urged participants to “be vigilant and not allow the anti-rights, backwards movements to continue.” Critics see such narratives as attempts to delegitimize socially conservative organizations and label their position on unborn life, marriage, and sexuality “dangerous” and “anti-rights”.
The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) released a working paper in May singling out C-Fam, the Vatican/Holy See, Family Watch International, International Organization of the Family (IOF), World Congress of Families (WCF), Family Policy Institute, the UN Family Rights Caucus as “anti-gender,” and calling for further investigations into pro-life and pro-family groups.
The paper recommends that progressive and feminist groups engage with pro-abortion and pro-same-sex marriage faith leaders to “offer a practical counter to the tendency of anti-gender/pro-family actors to claim that they speak on behalf of entire faith communities and to weaponize religion as a tool to restrict rights to sexual and bodily autonomy.“
The effort to undermine and remove pro-life and pro-family organizations at the UN does not stop with delivering statements and issuing reports. Last year the NGO Committee of the UN Commission on the Status of Women issued participation guidelines including a list of progressive “values”, mandating that all participants to a CSW conference share the same view on sexuality and gender. This effectively precluded pro-life and pro-family groups from participating in parts of the Commission on the Status of Women. In the same vein, the Commission denied several event requests from pro-life organizations.
In a discussion on procedural matters of the Commission, several groups supported by the EU Mission to the UN suggested that pro-life organizations be removed from the UN altogether. In response, pro-life groups released a petition of over 10,000 signatures demanding that all voices be heard at the UN.
Despite opposing the presence of pro-life and pro-family voices at the UN, the EU has condemned efforts to intimidate civil society groups at the UN. At the same meeting on human rights, the UK shared that it “fully supports the meaningful participation of the civil society with the UN.” Critics see this as a double standard celebrating engagement with the UN only for those organizations that align with progressive values on gender, sexuality, and abortion.
The “anti-rights” rhetoric and attacks on pro-life and pro-family groups gained traction at the domestic level, as well. In a recent interview with CNN, Hilary Clinton shared that Donald Trump supporters, known to be socially conservative, might need to be “reprogrammed.”