U.N. Report Challenges Religious Freedom, Pushes Compliance with LGBT+ Rights

The United Nations (U.N.) is set to release a report on the relationship between the “right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB)” and “sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)” in June, according to The Blaze.

The report’s goal is to encourage governments to comply fully with international human rights law in order to support and protect the participation of the LGBT+ community in religious communities.

The U.N. invited all interested governments, religious leaders, academics, activists, and human rights organizations to submit their input on perceived tensions between FoRB and SOGI.

One question asked, “What are the key trends or significant instances of discriminatory or abusive practices by individual providers of goods or services in the public sphere against LGBT+ and gender-diverse persons that rely on religious narratives?”

Victor Madrigal-Borloz, a long-time LGBT+ advocate and independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, will oversee the report.

The report will include “recommendations to States and other relevant stakeholders to fully comply with their obligations under international human rights law to protect and empower LGBT+ persons to pursue happiness, exercise and enjoy all their human rights, and choose how to contribute to society on an equal footing with everyone, including through effective participation in religious, cultural, social, and public life.”

The U.N. stated that religion has “historically been used to promote, enable, and condone institutional and personal violence and discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity (real or presumed); repress sexual and gender diversity; and promote cis-gendered and heteronormative norms of sexual orientation and gender identity.”

Grace Melton, senior associate in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at Heritage, expressed concern that the report could result in the “politicization” of religious freedom.

“My biggest concern is the premise of the report which seems to suggest that freedom of religion and rights based on sexual orientation are the same,” she said. “But certainly as a function of international law, they are not the same. Freedom of religion or belief, or freedom of conscience, is an internationally protected human right. It’s codified in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which is a legally binding treaty.”

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, a fellow for the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America, called the U.N.’s report a “bold attack” against religious freedom.

“This narrative is not only harmful because it could make people doubt the importance of religion in their own lives and their communities, but it’s also harmful because it will undermine really important social protection,” she added. “Religion and religious freedom is a stabilizing presence, and for the cases where religion is being misused to oppress, the answer isn’t to shut down religion entirely.”