The Obama administration, along with the European Union and the Nordic countries, ganged up on poor African nations over the past two weeks at the United Nations, insisting that sexual fidelity and delaying sexual debut cannot be defensive strategies against the spread of HIV.
The African countries sent delegates to New York with high hopes that at least one of the non-binding but influential documents produced at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, among the largest annual gatherings at the United Nations, could be a vehicle to help them slow the growth of HIV on their continent.Instead, working in tandem, the United States and the European Union blocked language encouraging the reduction of the number of sexual partners.
According to witnesses who spoke with Breitbart News, in the middle of the final night of negotiations, some African delegates actually wept in frustration.
At the start of negotiations, the United States, Europe, Norway, Mexico, and other Latin American nations threatened that there would be no HIV/AIDS resolution if it contained references to abstinence and fidelity, reducing the number of sexual partners, or even what would seem noncontroversial, “delaying sexual debut.” For two weeks negotiations were stalled and delayed. The US and the EU with their dozens of diplomats easily outmatched poor African countries that may have only one or two diplomats to cover the entire span of negotiations. The US and EU insisted that language like “fidelity” and “sexual delay” would stigmatize and therefore discourage those with HIV from getting tested and seeking treatment. The Africans insisted these were the only real defensive strategies against the disease, which is still at epidemic proportions in Africa.
The United States and the European negotiators were relentless. According to witnesses, they argued and cajoled for two solid weeks and into the early morning hours of the final day to remove any reference to reducing the number of sexual partners and “delay of sexual debut.”
Early sexual debut is recognized as a major risk factor for HIV infection, and the Africans were confident that the resolution would be adopted by consensus.However, at the final session of the Commission, indeed well after midnight, when resolutions negotiated over the previous two weeks are ultimately adopted by unanimous consensus, the US and EU launched a surprise maneuver calling for the removal of “delay of sexual debut.”
The Africans assumed the document was complete and, therefore, that the final acceptance was a foregone conclusion. A number of African delegates had already gone home for the night.The remaining African delegations had two choices: accept the defeat offered to them by the US and the EU, or call for a vote and face the wrath of other delegates forced to stay even later into the night after an exhausting two weeks. They called for a vote and lost, and “delay of sexual debut” came out of the document.
One delegate from Zimbabwe said what happened was “unacceptable” as her voice broke.
The Africans weren’t the only group bitterly disappointed by the outcome. Efforts by the western nations led by the US failed to get mention of “sexual orientation and gender identity” into the document. The hope is that “sexual orientation and gender identity” might become a protected category like the right to vote.The LGBT coalition released a statement Monday saying, “We are deeply disappointed at this attempt to render our experiences, communities, and families invisible. We have been told that sexual orientation and gender identity are ‘too controversial’ or that they have nothing to do with this year’s focus for the Commission’s debate: development. We know better. And so do the governments gathered here, though many appear to willfully ignore the evidence.”
The Commission on the Status of Women, always a target of feminist lobbyists, is famous for getting sidetracked into controversial social debates about gender normativity, abortion, and sexual rights. Lobbying by abortion groups and other controversial organizations funded by wealthy western countries and philanthropists often overshadows the efforts of groups that work on education, health, development, and other causes that are not controversial.
Despite their efforts, abortion groups are no closer to establishing human right to abortion than when they began lobbying at the United Nations four decades ago. In fact, there are signs they may actually be losing ground. Western countries concerned with securing sexual rights complained about “stagnation” and “lack of progress” at this year’s Commission, just as they did last year, because the UN still does not approve men having sex with men as a category of non-discrimination, does not recognize abortion as a right, and still recognizes the sovereignty of UN member states.
Stefano Gennarini, J.D. is the Director of the Center for Legal Studies, C-FAM and writes for the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.