by Ashley Corbaley
In September of last year Thai law professor and homosexual activist, Vitit Muntarbhorn, was appointed the first UN Independent Expert on sexual orientation and Gender Identity.
There was and is great opposition to the Independent Expert’s position. On November 21st the UN voted 84-77 (with 17 abstentions) to “uphold the Human Rights Council’s appointment and allow Muntarbhorn to take up his position.” The groups and countries in opposition comprised well over 100 of the 193 member states of the UN.
In a consultation in late January of this year, Muntarbhorn outlined a strategy for his three-year term. During his consultation, Muntarbhorn made some troubling statements regarding education, the definition of the family and religious freedom.
Regarding education, he stated that education was an ‘entry point’ for children to be “born and bred from a young age with the right attitudes.” He was in full support of anti-bullying campaigns and was against any form of medical therapy to help individuals change or cope with unwanted same-sex attraction.
Although vague in his position regarding the definition of the family, he did admit to having an open definition. But it is Muntarbhorn’s remarks regarding religious freedom that are especially disturbing: “There are some absolute rights but there are some that are not absolute… Freedom of expression and expression of religion” are not absolute rights and they can be curtailed if necessary.
What takes place at the United Nations affects all of us, especially our families. Muntarbhorn says he would like to engage with the “heart of religion without the mythology overriding the heart of the religion.” Those who believe their faith is more than a “mythology” recognize this threat to religious freedom and freedom of expression. These rights are absolute, and they need to be protected.