UN Committee Asserts Special Rights for ‘Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’

A UN human rights committee recently told UN member states they must grant broad new human rights on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity” by making sweeping changes to their national laws, policies and changing practices and attitudes within families and cultural institutions, or else they will be in “violation” of their obligations under international law. The document, called “General Comment 20,” was released on July 2nd by the committee responsible for monitoring compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Going well beyond putting an end to criminal penalties against homosexuality or stopping violence and unjust discrimination, it claims that two new anti-discrimination categories exist even though sovereign states have repeatedly rejected these same categories in open UN debates. In those debates, nations expressed concern that since the terms “sexual orientation and gender identity” are not recognized or defined in international law, the new category could be used to impose limitations on freedoms of speech, religion and conscience as well as marriage laws and school curricula. Indeed, the committee asserts that changes must include “a State’s constitution, laws and policy documents,” as well as “measures to attenuate or suppress conditions that perpetuate discrimination” including “employment in educational or cultural institutions,” as well as “families, workplaces, and other sectors of society.” Measures must remain in place until such a time “when substantive equality has been substantially achieved.” No definition of or standards for measuring “substantive equality” are provided. The non-discrimination article says that states party to the treaty agree to “guarantee that the rights enunciated in the present Covenant will be exercised without discrimination...