A United Nations document, initiated by Russia and intended to uphold traditional values has been hijacked by other countries, including the US and a number of European countries, according to C-Fam, which monitors family and life issues at the UN.
According to C-Fam, a process was initiated on the Human Rights Council last year by Russia with the aim of working towards a resolution to find a positive link between traditional values and human rights generally.
A drafting committee offered a preliminary study last February that was acceptable to pro-family delegates.
However, gay rights and other groups opposed the draft report arguing that it did not tackle what they said was conflict between traditional values and human rights.
The report emphasised universal traditional values shared by all people, in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It highlighted the connections between traditional values and human rights, arguing that the concept of human rights has its roots in the moral force of traditional values. The report contained explicit references to the right to life, the role of the family in society, as well as major religions.
The report said that there was “an indissociable link between traditional values and human rights, which promotes their recognition as both obligatory and universal”.
But the United States and some European countries objected that traditional values and religions often went against what they said were the rights of women and homosexual and transgender persons.
They objected that the report did not address this criticism and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) joined the criticisms.
This was despite the fact that the report referred to the fact that tradition was sometimes incompatible with “universally recognised human rights norms”.
It cited the example of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which it said “speaks of the need for a change in the traditional roles of both men and women in society and in the family, these being based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.
It added: “Clearly, some traditions may help to strengthen respect for and observance of human rights, while others may violate them. There are also many family and societal traditions that are in no way related to respect for human rights.”
Nonetheless following objections, the Chinese expert on the Advisory Committee of the Human Rights Council (HRC), Chung Chinsung, re-wrote the study, omitting positive references to the right to life, the family, and religion.
The new draft study was discussed last week in Geneva, and countries, experts, and NGOs that had complained were overall satisfied with the changes.
The new draft does not refer to the existence of universal traditional values. It claims instead that multiple traditional values exist, and they are constantly evolving. Some are consonant with human rights. But others are not.
This new draft sets human rights against traditional values. In the draft study, the Advisory Committee declares which traditional values are in conflict with human rights, and which ones are not.
The new draft argues that traditional values undermine the rights of women and minorities. It finds that certain traditions and religions spread “stereotypes about femininity, sexual orientation and the role and status of women in society”.
It also lists some “best practices” to show how, in some circumstances, traditional values can reinforce human rights. None of these examples are from western countries. In fact, the new draft finds that “traditional and cultural values in Western countries propagate harmful practices, such as domestic violence”.