A statement promoted by the government of France and issued jointly in December by 66 United Nations (UN) member states on “sexual orientation and gender identity” advances an agenda set forth in a highly controversial 2006 document called the “Yogyakarta Principles.”
The Yogyakarta Principles claim to govern “application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity.” Proponents assert the Yogyakarta Principles bind States to new legal standards even though the Yogyakarta document is the creature not of governmental agreement but of homosexual pressure groups and UN bureaucrats.
European delegates told the Friday Fax that the original draft of the French statement debated internally among European Union (EU) nations explicitly referenced the Yogyakarta Principles, but that Ireland, Malta and Poland insisted the reference be removed.
Despite the deletion from the final version of the French statement, Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Verhagan, one of the effort’s principal spokesmen, explicitly linked the statement to the Yogyakarta Principles. At a subsequent UN meeting on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,” Verhagan said his government endorsed the Yogyakarta Principles and called upon “all other states to embrace these Principles” as well.
Human Rights Committee member Michael O’Flaherty likewise explicitly appealed to the Yogyakarta Principles to define the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” that appeared in the French-led statement.
The Principles define “sexual orientation” as “each person’s capacity for profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and sexual relations with, individuals of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender,” and “gender identity” as “each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.”
Critics point out that provisions in the Yogyakarta Principles that ostensibly affirm freedom of opinion and expression “regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity” actually restrict free speech, as they call upon the state to “Ensure that the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression does not violate the rights and freedoms of persons of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities.” They cite curbs on Christian preachers’ right to opine on the sinfulness of homosexual acts by Canada and Sweden as harbingers of what to expect if the Yogyakarta Principles are ever implemented more broadly.
The three European countries that pushed back on the Yogyakarta reference have been praised for past willingness to buck EU consensus, such as at the 2008 Commission on the Status of Women, when Ireland, Poland and Malta broke ranks on abortion rights language promoted by other European nations.
A delegate opposed to the French-led statement told the Friday Fax, however, that he wished the Yogyakarta reference stayed in, as its removal simply masked the radical agenda and provided cover for countries with socially conservative constituencies, such as Latin America nations, who wished to be considered “progressive” by supporting the statement.