The controversial “UN Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity”, Vitit Muntarbhorn, seems quite in a hurry to re-define, expand, and overstretch, his mandate. Just a few weeks after having been confirmed in his post only by a minority of UN members in the General Assembly (with a majority voting either against his mandate or abstaining), he is convening a consultation “on defining the scope of his work, setting priorities and developing effective strategies”.
As one can further read on the UN Website, he will “discuss the following five linchpins, interrelated and mutually reinforcing, that are instrumental in addressing the challenges of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and that will help frame the priorities of the mandate:
- Legal recognition of gender identity
- Cultural inclusion with gender-and-sexual diversity
It is rather cheeky of the man to pretend that the scope of his work still needs to be defined. In actual fact, the mandate he has been given clearly does not include any “decriminalization” of sodomy, child abuse, pornography, or any other sexual depravities. At best, it could be interpreted as including the unjust persecution of people on the sole grounds of a misguided “sexual orientation” as such, i.e. an inclination that is not manifested through any sexual misconduct. However, there is not a single country in the world that criminalizes any such “orientation”. What is subject to criminal sanctions in many countries is manifest sexual misconduct, such as (inter alia) sodomy. It is uncontroversial in international law that the criminal prosecution of sexual misconduct is not only legitimate, but even a necessity.
One also marvels at what the new “Independent Expert” can mean by “de-stigmatization”. Normally, the “stigmata” are the outward sign of a person of great sanctity (such as Jesus Christ, Francis of Assisi, or Father Pio of Pietrelcina) – it is thus very unlikely that persons engaging in sexual depravities will ever carry any stigmata. But if “de-stigmatization” is understood as a policy to prevent people from speaking or thinking critically of certain sterile-but-unhealthy sexual behaviours, then what Mr. Muntarbhorn has in mind is obviously a concerted world-wide attack on free speech.
“Gender identity” cannot be legally recognised as long as nobody knows what this term actually means. Currently, this is a neo-logism coined by Mr. Muntarbhorn himself, un-recognized by science and law.
It is expected that most of the States who opposed the creation of Mr. Muntarbhorn’s new job will abstain from attending the event or interacting with the “Independent Expert”, as they do not view him as legitimate and promised not to cooperate with him. This is, on the one hand, very good, but on the other hand it might lead to a completely lopsided outcome in which all of the participants agree with his ideas, and which he will then try to paint as representative.