Sexual Orientation No Ground For Discrimination
Published: Tuesday | May 6, 2014 10 Comments
Philippa Davie, Guest Columnist
The following is a response to an article entitled ‘Prejudice fuels denial of rights for gays’, by Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Please allow me the opportunity to express my concerns about comments published in The Gleaner in the name of Navi Pillay on May 1, 2014. The comments misrepresent a foundational international treaty and its principles; makes claims lacking scientific and sociological evidence; and campaigns for ideas in direct contradiction to the mandate of the organisation of which Pillay is head. Such errors can only undermine the integrity of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR).
Ms Pillay gives the impression that sexual orientation and the sexual preferences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT) are enshrined in universally accepted international law. This is not so. The constitutional treaties of the UN – the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenants of 1966 (ICCPR and ICESCR) – do not grant anyone the right to have sex. Neither is there any international treaty espousing sexual orientation as a ground for non-discrimination. No country is bound to recognise or change its laws to accommodate minority sexual preferences, and this argument has been rejected in UN meetings by many UN members, including CARICOM nations.
TOLERANCE NOT ACCEPTANCE
The commissioner also wrongly equates skin colour with sexual behaviour. Skin colour is wholly genetic and unchangeable, whereas homosexuality and transgenderism have no known genetic bases, are behavioural choices, and are changeable. DNA research has revealed no ‘gay gene’; studies have never found 100 per cent occurrence of homosexuality among identical twins; and the existence of many former homosexuals and transgender persons presents patent evidence of the changeable nature of sexual orientation.
While it is true that homosexuality has always existed, that behaviour’s long existence does not mean it has been condoned. Tolerance does not mean acceptance or encouragement. In addition to being unnatural, homosexual behaviour is also unhealthy as evidenced by the alarming statistics that men who have sex with men have higher rates of HIV/AIDS than the general population in all countries around the world regardless of income level. In Jamaica, this rate is 32 per cent compared to 1.6 per cent. Additionally, homosexual and lesbian health providers themselves caution their clients that these risky lifestyles are more likely to lead to higher rates of depression, suicidal tendencies, drug abuse, and anal and breast cancers, among other repercussions.
Further, scientific research refutes the commissioner’s assertion that there is no link between homosexuals and paedophiles. Studies have shown that many adults embracing homosexuality were exposed to homosexuality as children, including being molested by adults. In Jamaica, we ourselves have heard recently the news of boys being molested by adult homosexuals and older boys then molesting younger boys, all of which took place in the same physical environment. It has been said so often: Children live what they learn.
Certainly, violence against any person is to be denounced and the inherent worth of every person reaffirmed. An honest debate, however, would examine the real factors giving rise to same-sex attraction and homosexual behaviour and the better response to these. Instead, Ms Pillay fails to admit that LGBT persons already enjoy all the fundamental human rights available to every human being and that LGBT ‘rights’ are all about creating privileges for a minority on the basis of preferred sexual activity, with known harmful medical outcomes. This deliberate global political campaign is really about trampling on the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and religion of other persons who stand for the truth backed by scientific evidence.
The UN agency for which Ms Pillay works says on its website that its role is to speak out “objectively in the face of human rights violations worldwide” and that it has a “unique mandate from the international community to promote and protect all human rights”. However, I have not found any report of Ms Pillay, or her organisation, speaking out on behalf of those persons arbitrarily removed from their jobs or losing their businesses because their religious beliefs and conscience adhere to traditional definitions of sex, marriage and family life. Where was Ms Pillay when Brendan Eich was forced to resign from Mozilla, the company he co-founded, because he believes marriage is between one man and one woman?
Did the UNHCR institute a global campaign to ensure the right to free speech and conscience for street preachers Harry Hammond, Tony Miano, Miguel Hayworth, Pauline Howe, and Jamie Murray, among others; or business owners Peter and Hazlemary Bull, Susanne Wilkinson, Sue and Jeff Green; or parents Eunice and Owen Johns, David Parker, and the Wirthlins; or employees Lilian Ledele, Sarah Mbuyi, Crystal Dixon, Theresa Davies, and Andrew McClintock? When and where did Ms Pillay speak up for the rights of these citizens of countries who are members of the UN?
By her inaction and silence, the commissioner is herself guilty of prejudice and discrimination against the dignity and freedoms of others. This distortion of the mandate and role of the UNHCR is fostering real victims of stigma and discrimination.