Sexual orientation, gender identity, and abortion rights continue to be featured in international law.
Attorneys working for human rights at the United Nations and other global organizations note a growing trend to introduce “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” language – as well as abortion rights – into international law.
A “newer theme that we see in international law is what we call the SOGI movement, or the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity movement,” British attorney Paul Coleman told CNA on March 23.
“It’s been around for the last decade and it is seeking to promote the terms ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ on an international level; seeking to provide protections, seeking to change international laws to include those terms and having a series of knock-on effects in a number of different areas.”
Coleman, who specializes in international litigation with a focus on European law, does legal advocacy in international institutions of governance like the the United Nations, the European Court of Human Rights, the European Union.
“The terms ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ are terms that aren’t particularly well understood,” explained the attorney, who serves as legal counsel in the Vienna office of the international organization Alliance Defending Freedom.
“That’s part of the issue with this sort of terminology – that its so fluid, that it changes – it can mean whatever people want it to mean.”
As a result, the language becomes a kind of tool for incorporating certain beliefs into law.
“In effect, ‘sexual orientation’ is a ‘code word,’ so to speak, for homosexuality and homosexual behavior, and ‘gender identity’ is a ‘code’ for transsexualism or people who feel they are not male or female, but are something different, something in between, or nothing at all,” Coleman said.
In addition to the SOGI movement, Coleman noted an “attempt to create a right to abortion” in international law – an effort which which he says has been around since the early 1990s and continues to grow in “force” each year.
This attempt also uses key language to place these ideas in global law, he added.
“It’s one of the major trends that we now see…there are many documents that are discussed at the United Nations where the phrases ‘reproductive health and rights’ and ‘sexual reproductive health and rights’ appear constantly.”
“No matter what the issue is that’s being discussed, they’ll always find a way to include those issues.”
Neydy Casillas, an attorney and former law professor from Mexico working in the Organization of American States and Latin America, lamented the heavy international focus on issues of sexuality rather than difficult situations faced by many around the globe.
“Sadly in these organizations, where they should be talking about the problems that exist in the world, like poverty, lack of access to health care in general, lack of education, etc., – problems that will affect the development of nations – discussion has focused solely on the (question of) what is life, to try to legalize abortion in all circumstances.”
“They also work very hard on the homosexual agenda,” added the attorney who also does advocacy work for Alliance Defending Freedom, “as if they were the problems the world is experiencing – completely ignoring other problems that exist and affect the entire world and truly help development.”
Coleman cited three different groups at the United Nations advancing the language and goals of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”
The “primary drivers” are the “activist organizations,” followed by “liberal, predominantly western countries,” and then “the institutions themselves at the UN: people that work for the UN itself.”
When the three are aligned, Coleman warned, the results are powerful.