Posted on: 2017-04-20

The Independent newspaper, last week carried a passionate plea for the protection of life in Nigeria from the Archbishop emeritus of Lagos, His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie. It was a much-needed message because life, irreplaceable and sacred as it is, has become quite cheap in Nigeria. Probably next to the security of life for the good of society is the security of the family, which is also facing many destabilizing challenges in our contemporary world. Thankfully, there are also many courageous people and organizations who are doing all they can to protect the family at various levels.

One of them is Family Watch International (FWI) which is inspired and led by Sharin Slater, a housewife and mother who, rather than sit back and lament the woes threatening the family, simply decided to take action and start this advocacy organization. One of the great services by FWI is providing information on the challenges and victories of the family at the United Nations, where so many political decisions affecting life and the family are taken. FWI’s recent reports from the UN is very heartwarming. Below are excerpts therefrom.

A major victory for children was scored at the UN last week as negotiations concluded Friday at UN headquarters at the Commission on Population and Development (CPD). Family Watch was there led by Annie Franklin, FWI’s director of UN activities.

The document under negotiation titled “Changing population age structures and sustainable development” quickly became a battleground. Nations fought over “reproductive rights” [read: abortion], sexual orientation, gender identity (transgender rights), comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), autonomous sexual rights for children, and much more.

Nations were deeply divided on these issues with the European Union, Latin American countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, pressuring developing countries to accept controversial abortion and sexual rights. On the other side, Arab and African States, the Caribbean Islands, Russia, Belarus, the Holy See and a few Asian states resisted this intense pressure. Some governments responded by pushing for strong language recognizing the role of family in development. Others insisted on recognizing the sovereign right of nations to implement the document in accordance with their national policies and the religious and cultural values of their people. 

The United States was a wild card. Since the previous administration had aggressively pushed sexual rights and abortion, everyone was wondering how far the new administration would go in protecting life and what the U.S. positions would be on sexual issues.

For years United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has manipulated CPD negotiations to advance abortion and sexual rights using deceptive euphemisms and tactics. Therefore, Family Watch was very concerned that the draft document sought to establish a “crucial role” for UNFPA in implementing the expected agreement. So together with the UN Family Rights Caucus, we circulated an email providing governments concrete evidence showing how, among other things, UNFPA is promoting abortion.

For example, if UNFPA does not promote abortion as they claim, why did their report on sexuality education in Africa include over 90 references to abortion, and state that abortion should be discussed from an “empathetic” position? Their report criticized African sex education programs for not promoting “sexual diversity” and encouraged African governments to see the “It’s All One” sexuality education curriculum for a “factual treatment of abortion.” This UNFPA recommended curriculum, “It's All One,” has over 112 references to abortion, 62 references to sexual pleasure, and much more.

Family Watch also sent governments excerpts from a UNFPA-funded “toolkit” for peer sexuality education. The toolkit also encourages peer leaders to invite boys and girls to participate together in a condom relay race, instructing them to put condoms on “penis models” held by volunteers.

Since UNFPA would be playing a “crucial role” in implementing the document, and thus any provisions regarding sex education, and it is clear that UNFPA’s approach is harmful to children, we strongly urged governments to protect their children by refusing to accept any ambiguous references to “sexuality” education.

As often happens at CPD, the divisions over abortion and sexuality issues only widened, so the CPD Chair proposed a compromise text. However, the new text was still unacceptable.

We then sent governments a link to a three-minute video with excerpts from the historic UN debate at CPD two years ago where the African Group and Nauru so eloquently and strongly refused “comprehensive sexuality education” and “reproductive rights.” (The entire CPD document had been thrown out over this in 2015!). We warned governments that unless the harmful elements for children were removed, to protect the health and innocence of children, they must reject the CPD document again.  We reminded nations that “no document is better than a document that will hurt children.”

Then a last-minute compromise was offered, which, among other things, deleted the word “comprehensive” in relation to education on human sexuality and deleted “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights” as a human right for women and girls. But the European Union refused this compromise, insisting on unqualified references to comprehensive sexuality education and reproductive rights. 

Unable to reach consensus, the Chair’s text had to be withdrawn, and CPD 50 ended without an outcome document. There were some excellent statements from pro-family delegations as well as statements from nations pushing for sexual rights.

We are especially grateful to the African Group for standing up once again for the health and innocence of children We see the rejection of the radical elements proposed in the CPD document as a victory for the protection of life and the health and innocence of children all around the world! It is very necessary that parents and guardians know what dangers the family constantly faces and support the courageous allies which try to protect it at every turn.