The UN Human Rights Council Moves Away from Decades of Legal and Societal Progress

Press release
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Geneva, 29 June 2014 – On 27 June, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution on the “protection of the family” which could seriously undermine not only international standards on gender equality and women’s rights, but also the right to non-discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The resolution adopted on Friday purposefully ignores the heterogeneity of families existing around the world, including single parent, childless and same-sex families, said Sheila Muwanga, FIDH Vice-President. Through a restrictive so-called ’traditional’ definition of the family, it excludes the very persons it purports to protect, she added.

This initiative was led by Egypt and Russia and supported by a group of states, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Sudan and Uganda [1]

Moderate states should disassociate themselves from the path on which the most regressive states embarked, said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. Countries like South Africa, the Philippines or Brazil should act consistently with their national frameworks, which do afford protection to a wide range of families. They should unambiguously reject attacks on international standards, he added.

In many societies, the pretext of “protecting the family” has been, and is still, used to prevent women’s emancipation and deny gender equality.

HRC resolution A/HRC/26/L.20/Rev.1 creates a panel discussion on the “protection of the family and its members” to be held at its 27th session, in September 2014. It was adopted after an amendment tabled by a group of states and aiming at recognizing the various forms of the family was excluded from consideration by the Council through a “no-action motion”.

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