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UN report on gender equality attacks religious freedom, says Vatican official

A United Nations report addressing gender-based violence and discrimination connected to religious beliefs “is now attacking the very reality it is called to defend,” a Vatican representative told a U.N. meeting in Geneva. Archbishop Jurkovich made his remarks on March 2, 2020 during a session of the Human Rights Council that was discussing a 2020 report by the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.


“Particularly unacceptable and offensive are the numerous references that recommend that freedom of religion or belief and conscientious objection must be surrendered for the promotion of other so-called human rights, which certainly do not enjoy consensus, thus being a sort of ideological colonization (…) The Vatican, he said, defines gender and related terms according to the ordinary, generally accepted usage of the word, based on the biological identity that is male and female.”

The U.N. report looked at examples around the world of how some claims of religious freedom were being used to rollback or make exemptions to laws against gender-based violence and discrimination, and the report called for greater efforts by states to promote both freedom of religion and non-discrimination against women, girls and those identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The report criticized “religious interest groups” and individuals who invoke “religious tenets as well as pseudoscience” to defend traditional values about social roles for men and women, and who oppose “gender ideology” in ways that intimidate or stigmatize critics.

The report, however, also expressed concern with states banning or limiting access to abortion, contraception and artificially assisted reproduction — policies the Catholic Church speaks out against in promoting the sanctity of life.


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