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Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
World News

Religious freedom is no protection against LGBT and abortion demands, says UN rights expert

by Premier Journalist

Meeting in Geneva today, the UN Human Rights Council has received a report that recommends member states push back on freedom of religion, as a basis of objection to demands from LGBT+ and abortion activists.

Presenting his latest report to the Council, Victor Madrigal-Borloz, the Independent Expert on sexual orientation and gender identity, said violence, discrimination and exclusion can have severe and negative consequences for the personhood, dignity, and spirituality of LGBT+ persons.

“They are often marginalised, stigmatised and excluded from religious communities simply because of who they are,” he told the meeting.

Arguing that certain “religious narratives” are “beyond the scope of the right freedom of religion or belief,” Madrigal-Borloz said these cannot be used to deny the human rights of LGBT persons:

“Violent and discriminatory positions of prejudice are beyond the international legal protections of religious or other beliefs,” he said.

The Human Rights Council is an intergovernmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe.

In his report to the Council, the UN expert criticised “traditional values,” “public morals” and “national values” when cited to deny what he said were “the human rights of women, LGBT+ persons and religious and belief minorities”, especially when linked with “patriotism and patriarchal gender and family norms”.

Citing businesses which refuse to bake cakes, host receptions or print invitations for same-sex partnership ceremonies, Madrigal-Berloz said: “States owe obligations under international human rights law to ensure that LGBT+ consumers are not discriminated against”, urging action against providers of goods and services who hold firm to their religious convictions.

In a serious of conclusions matched by recommendations, he cited United Nations treaty monitoring bodies who have emphasised that “States cannot permit conscience-based refusals of healthcare” as a basis to infringe on abortion demands.

The paper also urges States to look at punitive measures for those who hold to orthodox views, saying they must “encourage religious institutions to consider the ways in which representatives will be held responsible in cases in which they promote discrimination against LGBT+ and other gender diverse persons”.


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