The EU may have no competence in relation to the family but CARE’s David Fieldsend at an Iona meeting on 11th Nov alerted us to how its unity may be threatened by ‘the re-invention and intolerant application’ of a new concept of ‘human rights’ in the field of non discrimination.
The idea of human rights threatening the family sounds contradictory. In fact it is the key to understanding why many who rejected Lisbon did not trust the EU to respect Ireland’s stance in relation to the culture of life.
Michael Martin, Minister for Foreign Affairs, under pressure from Europe to secure a yes vote next time around now reassures us that European member states are prepared to give us firm guarantees of legal protection for the family articles of our Constitution in all EU decisions and judgments.
Minister Martin knows that the EU operates in a global decision-making context where President Obama has appointed Hillary Clinton as Sec. of State. While Bush’s administration, whatever one might think of its record, had resolutely backed the culture of life it is now likely that once again the UN and the EU will be at one in reversing that.
So the Minister will be pulled in two opposing directions, towards protecting the family articles of our Constitution that are integral to the culture of life on one hand and towards harmonising our position within EU and UN foras on the other.
Meanwhile the Minister canvassed for the re-nomination of Michael O’Flaherty, the rapporteur of Yogyakarta Principles (YP) – and their promoter – to fill our slot on a UN Human Right’s Committee. These 29 principles extend the mandate of internationally recognised human rights to encompass both sexual orientation and gender identity. As a policy statement crafted by UN experts and NGOs they expansively specify what this entails and how violators will be held accountable.
Once, with our representative’s guidance, the YPs achieve legal recognition how will the Minister protect our constitutional position on marriage and/or religious freedom? Where does even the educational primacy of parents stand in relation to Principle 15? This Principle references the need to establish ‘social programmes’ to address “factors relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.. especially for children and young people” who may suffer “rejection by families”.
With a government acknowledging that decisions taken internationally are not being adequately debated/scrutinised at home should the spotlight now be turned on such ambiguous stances? There are others. Perhaps the ‘stimulus package’ when it comes should include funding for the institutional support of such an effort.