The move comes a month after the Obama Administration ordered the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in federal court cases, and is seen as a reversal of President George Bush’s hands-off policy with regards to homosexual rights.
In addition, last week the President issued a joint statement with Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, announcing the creation of a government position that will monitor the extent to which special rights and concessions are being extended to homosexuals in the Western Hemisphere.
Fred Sainz of the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s premier homosexual activist organizations, said the various olive branches the Administration has offered to homosexuals in the U.S. and beyond are an indication that America is finally stepping into its role as a “gay rights” leader. “For those who have been denied their equality for decades, change will never come soon enough,” Sainz said. “But there should also be no doubt that in the past two years more positive change for and on behalf of gay people has been made than ever before.”
The U.S. declaration, entitled “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” calls on governments to take special steps “to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions, and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.” As reported by the Christian Post, the U.S. and others nations signing the declaration “affirmed a 2008 joint statement by a group of states representing all five U.N. regions that called for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the statement to the U.N., they also commend attention paid to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity by international human rights mechanisms and within the context of the Universal Periodic Review.”
The Associated Press noted that the issue of protecting rights for homosexuals “has polarized nations at the UN for years. And despite growing acceptance for homosexuality in Western nations and parts of Latin America, lawyers say there is still a gap in human rights treaties for the protection of gays against discrimination and mistreatment.” Suzanne Nossel, deputy assistant secretary of state for international organizations, said that the Obama Administration is “very concerned that individuals continue to be killed, arrested, and harassed around the world because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This statement sends a strong message from across the globe that such abuses should not be tolerated.”
Conspicuously missing from the “human rights” con-fab was a collective voice for traditional family values, such as those embraced by those practicing Judeo-Christian faith traditions. One of the few pro-family leaders who attended the meeting was Roman Catholic Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, who pointed out to the UN “human rights” body that, increasingly, those who see homosexuality as morally wrong are being vilified and silenced by groups purporting to champion equal rights. “People are being attacked for taking positions that do not support sexual behavior between people of the same sex,” said the Archbishop. “When they express their moral beliefs or beliefs about human nature ... they are stigmatized, and worse, they are vilified, and prosecuted.” He said that such attacks “are violations of fundamental human rights and cannot be justified under any circumstances.”
The Archbishop explained that the term “sexual orientation” found in resolutions and texts adopted by the UN “human rights” body, refers properly to “feelings and thoughts, not to behavior”—a distinction he emphasized was crucial for the sake of avoiding an anything-goes attitude toward sexual behavior. “For the purposes of human rights law, there is a critical difference between feelings and thoughts, on the one hand, and behavior, on the other,” the Archbishop said. “A state should never punish a person, or deprive a person of the enjoyment of any human right, based just on the person’s feelings and thoughts, including sexual thoughts and feelings.”
Nevertheless, the Vatican representative said, “states can, and must, regulate behaviors, including various sexual behaviors. Throughout the world, there is a consensus between societies that certain kinds of sexual behaviors must be forbidden by law….” While nations must not regulate thoughts or feelings, said the Archbishop, they also must not regard sexual behavior as completely private and beyond the scope of law. “Human sexuality, like any voluntary activity, possesses a moral dimension,” he said, explaining that those who reject the moral element of sexuality in favor of what they call an “orientation” are ultimately destroying their own arguments about human freedom.
As reported by the Catholic News Agency, “Archbishop Tomasi also reiterated the Vatican’s position on human sexuality — which the Catholic Church regards not only as an article of faith, but as a universal matter of natural law.” The Catholic leader explained to the UN body that “human sexuality is a gift that is genuinely expressed in the complete and lifelong mutual devotion of a man and a woman in marriage.”
Photo: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday Feb. 28, 2011.