The President of the Honduran Congress, Roberto Micheletti, has introduced a pro-family bill in his country directly inspired by Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which proclaims that the family is “the natural and fundamental group unit of society” entitled to protection by the state. The legislation has broad support and is expected to pass in early 2009.
In an exclusive interview, one prominent supporter of the bill, Congresswoman Martha de Casco, told the Friday Fax that the proposed “Law to Strengthen the Family” requires that a “family perspective” be brought to bear in evaluating every governmental program and policy for its impact on the family. The bill also includes tax incentives for families, educational initiatives that emphasized responsible fatherhood and motherhood while steering teens toward marriage, and a requirement that government public housing projects be “family friendly” by including, for example, multiple bedrooms in apartments.
To ensure implementation, the bill would set up a commission for the family, loosely analogous to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the United States, though without enforcement mechanisms. The commission is to be comprised of government officials, church figures, and civil society representatives.
De Casco said the proposed legislation was inspired by a true understanding of the UDHR, which emphasizes the role of “family,” traditionally understood, as necessary for a healthy society. As a member of the Honduran delegation to the international conferences held in Cairo and Beijing on population and women respectively in the mid-1990s, de Casco recalls battling radical feminists who sought to introduce a “gender ideology” in United Nations (UN) documents that “pitted man against woman, husband against wife.”
Such a perspective is contrary to a “holistic” vision of marriage and family that emphasizes the “complementariness” of the sexes united in matrimony, which is ideal for raising well-adjusted children. According to de Casco, it is this ideal which inspired the drafters of the UDHR as well.
De Casco also said that the Honduran bill was designed to address one of the “root causes of poverty” in her country, which is the “lack of intact nuclear families” among the poor.
The Honduran Congresswoman also told the Friday Fax that the “family perspective” was intentionally introduced as a countermeasure to the “gender perspective” that is seeping into documents drafted by UN agencies, such as UNIFEM, also known as the UN Development Fund for Women. She criticizes those that seek to impose a “gender architecture” at the UN that she characterizes as seeing relations between the sexes as one of conflict.
According to de Casco, in addition to the UDHR, there were other positive models as well, and the Honduran Congress specifically considered aspects of certain Peruvian legislation that she characterized as “pro-family.”
The UDHR celebrated its 60th anniversary on December 10, an occasion marked by numerous events at the United Nations, including a luncheon hosted by Focus on the Family and the Christian aid group CARE that featured a speech by Habib Malik, whose father Charles was instrumental in the drafting of the landmark human rights document.