The United Nations announced plans to release a report in June regarding "perceived contradictions" between "the right to freedom of religion or belief (FoRB)" and "sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)." The report aims to push governments to "fully comply" with international human rights law to "protect and empower" the participation of LGBT+ people in religious communities, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
The U.N. requested calls for input from all interested governments, religious leaders, academics, activists, and human rights organizations regarding "perceived points of tension" between FoRB and SOGI.
Respondents were requested to indicate any policies or laws protecting discriminatory religious practices.
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?"
The report's findings will be shared during the 53rd session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in June. It will also 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."
In charge of the report is Victor Madrigal-Borloz, an independent expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, who has been a longtime LGBT+ advocate.
The U.N.'s announcement argued 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."
According to the U.N., such practices cannot be "justified" under human rights law. The upcoming report aims to "introduce voices from LGBT-inclusive belief systems" to "better recognize and protect LGBT+ persons' access to faith and spirituality."
Grace Melton, senior associate in the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Life, Religion, and Family at Heritage, told the DCNF 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," stated Melton. "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, told the DCNF that the U.N.'s report is a "bold attack" against religious freedom.
"Despite saying that we shouldn't have these rights pitted against one another, but when you keep reading on you see that the author of the report really does see [rights and religion] as being in conflict," Picciotti-Bayer said.
"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," Picciotti-Bayer 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."
Neither the U.N. nor Madrigal-Borloz responded to a request for comment, the DCNF reported.
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