By Elyssa Koren of the Alliance Defending Freedom
United Nations Headquarters in New York City hosted the 47th session of the annual Commission on Population and Development (CPD) from April 7 to 11. The Commission resulted in heated negotiations on issues related to the abortion and homosexual agendas. In anticipation of the Commission, the chief of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, outlined the UN agency’s primary objective. “We are trying to get sexual and reproductive health and rights,” he noted.
Osotimehin stated that “LGBT” is “still creating the fireworks it created 20 years ago.”As with the majority of UN sessions on human rights and development, the Commission was fraught with tension over language stemming from the abortion and homosexual agendas. Dr. Ostotimehin is correct to highlight “LGBT” as a major source of controversy in the negotiation room for the session’s outcome document; however, the real fight was about abortion. The negotiations revealed the use of a carefully crafted strategy designed to pressure Member States to accept abortion language as a consequence of their efforts to block any references to homosexual behavior.
As with many UN processes, at this Commission, the homosexual agenda served as a bargaining chip to secure more language on abortion, given the general understanding that there was no chance of success for the homosexual agenda. When presented with unacceptable language on such issues, the tendency on the part of traditionally pro-life and pro-family Member States is to capitulate on “reproductive rights” and other similar abortion language to bar the inclusion of anything related to “LGBT” issues.
The Commission marked the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which produced the highly influential Programme of Action that continues to guide the UN approach to population and development issues. The ICPD is heralded as the first document to bring “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights” to the forefront of the development agenda—a theme which permeates the discourse at the UN to this day.
In view of the anniversary year, over one hundred Member States began the negotiations by calling for a commemorative text that would avoid delving into or changing the content of the original ICPD. The Chairs of the proceedings, who represented Uruguay, Denmark, and Georgia, ignored these calls and the result of the Commission was a content-heavy text with an inordinate focus on sexual and reproductive issues.
The hand of UNFPA and other abortion and homosexual “rights” advocates was evident—many of the “sexual and reproductive health and rights” proponents in the room were delegates that had been paid to attend the Commission by UNFPA. Most notably, several small island states, including Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, repeatedly and vociferously called for the inclusion of “sexual and reproductive rights,” in violation of their restrictive national laws.
Ostotimehin stated that, “all of the fight that is going on in that room is about LGBT, nothing more, nothing less.” Contrary to his statement, the fight at CPD was not about “LGBT” due to the fact that the countries of the African and Arab Groups rapidly and convincingly dismissed these issues.While such issues do generate heated debate, Ostotimehin’s comment is not only inaccurate, but also it is indicative of the strategic interplay between “sexual rights” (the homosexual agenda) and “reproductive rights” (abortion) in the hands of UNFPA. It is clear that “sexual rights” cannot be incorporated into UN documents as long as the African and Arab Groups maintain a hardline stance on homosexual behavior. Their position is unwavering and widely known—Ostotimehin knew this, as did the Chairs of the Commission and the majority of Member State representatives in the room, thus indicating that until the political climate shifts, the extent of “sexual rights” will be limited to a tool to advance the abortion agenda.
The final text contains a myriad of controversial references to abortion, including: “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights,””reproductive health services,” and”safe abortion”. This language does not go beyond the original 1994 ICPD due to the efforts of committed Member States, in particular the African and Arab Groups; however, the document is in many regards a failure in that it fails to adequately cover the plethora of development issues ranging from nutrition to employment addressed in the original ICPD Programme of Action, and instead focuses heavily on abortion and related issues.
As evidenced by Ostotimehin’s comments, the “sexual rights” and “reproductive rights” agendas at the UN are one and the same. UNFPA’s stated goal is the inclusion of both strong “sexual rights” and abortion language in UN documents. Although these documents do not have the force of law, they carry with them tremendous financial implications, and are used to pressure countries, particularly those of the developing world, to liberalize their laws. The trend to make concessions on abortion to counteract the demands of the homosexual agenda is most alarming, and will continue to persist unless Member States receive clear instructions from their governments to block the inclusion of all detrimental language on life and family issues.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an international Christian legal association dedicated to the protection of religious freedom, life from conception until natural death, and the sanctity of marriage. With more than 40 full time attorneys, 2300 allied lawyers, and having participated in over 500 cases, ADF is a legal advocacy leader in the area of religious liberty. ADF is also accredited with the European Parliament, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe,Organization for American States and has Consultative Status with the United Nations.