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VIDEO: The mysterious power of an international transgender declaration that no one has ever heard of

Why are the Yogyakarta Principles so influential?


Russian feminist Anna Zobnina’s excellent summary of the Yogyakarta Principles at a recent seminar.

The reasons for the rapid conquest by transgender activists of the media, universities, government departments and woke corporations are mysterious. Is it cultural? Psychological? Philosophical? Legal?

Without being a complete explanation, one reason is widespread acceptance of the Yogyakarta Principles. Amnesty USA describes them as “a universal guide to applying international human rights law” to LGBT issues. A leading German NGO, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, describes them as “a groundbreaking document, extensively used since by human rights mechanisms and advocates” and Human Rights Watch has praised them as “a milestone for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender rights”.

America’s leading LGBT think tank, the Williams Institute at UCLA, says that “the Yogyakarta Principles are the primary document defining the application of international human rights law with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity.”

But despite scholarly journals often quoting these principles they are not recognised in international human rights law.

The Yogyakarta Principles, promulgated in 2006, addressed lesbian, gay and bisexual rights. In 2017, more principles to accommodate transgender rights were added. These are called the Yogyakarta Principles + 10.

You may have never heard of either document. But trans activists have turned them into powerful propaganda tools for transforming transgender rights into human rights. As an example, a recent submission by Amnesty Australia to a federal government inquiry into religious freedom quotes the Yogyakarta Principles over and over again.

The trouble is, they are not worth the paper they are written on.

The back story

The genesis of the Yogyakarta Principles is a horror story involving several key people, legal strategies and well-organised public relations events around the world, all designed to replace the term “sex” with “gender”.

The site of the first meeting in November 2006, Yogyakarta in Indonesia, was chosen because it was “south of the equator, in a Muslim majority country and in a jurisdiction ruled by a Sultan”. The co-chairs of the meeting were from Thailand and Brazil and representation was carefully selected from outside the West and Latin America, including individuals from Botswana, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Thailand and Turkey. The participants came from only 25 countries.

The original document became the Yogyakarta Principles Plus 10 in 2017. Its new principles included gender expression, sex characteristics, sexual orientation and “gender identity”.

The 2017 document was signed by only 33 people.

Legally inconsequential

What is their legal status? They have none at all. They are just a Christmas shopping list for the transgender lobby.

The Principles have never been accepted by the United Nations. Attempts to make gender identity and sexual orientation new categories of non-discrimination have been repeatedly rejected by the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and other UN bodies. In fact, a majority of members of the General Assembly opposed any reference to the Yogyakarta Principles as they are seen as being contradictory to the position of the UN Human Rights Council.

Despite its reputation in Australia, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee has acknowledged that the Yogyakarta Principles have no statutory power in Australia. They have no binding effect in international human rights law either.

Compare this to the legal support that the international community has given to women. The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) was adopted by the United Nations in 1979 and has been ratified by 189 states (the US being one notable exception).

Australia became a signatory of CEDAW in 1980, but the convention was further empowered by our federal legislature when it was incorporated in its entirety into the Commonwealth legislation enacted to protect and further the rights of women, the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984.

Feminists betrayed

Do feminists support the Yogyakarta Principles? No.

In fact, an international feminist group, the Women’s Human Rights Campaign (WHRC), which includes many well-known academics and feminist activists, is fiercely opposed to them. In their view, the principles are misogynistic and attempt “to make sex a defunct legal category.” The Yogyakarta Principles document is designed to replace “sex”, which is a scientific, biological fact, with “gender identity”, which is a socially constructed fiction, based largely on postmodernist rhetoric and identity politics.

They claim that the popularity of the document is a sign that “we are moving towards a society where sex does not exist”, especially for women and girls. They fear that acceptance of the Yogyakarta Principles will destroy the enormous gains made in past decades by the feminist movement.

Nor has the Yogyakarta Principles project had much popular support. It is largely coordinated by Allied Rainbow Communities, or ARC International (ARC), an NGO based in Canada. In her analysis of the Yogyakarta Principles, feminist Anna Zobnina notes that ARC is basically a lobby group, not an internationally representative organisation.

The WHRC Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights has been signed, as at September 9, by 11,772 individuals and 256 organisations from 119 countries. All supporters of the WHRC are listed on its Declaration page. It is quite transparent.

The ARC website is not transparent. Its latest accounts date from 2016, when it received $407,000 from “membership and donations” in 2016. It also received $275,000 from “foundations” and $71,000 from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

The WHRC Facebook page has about 4,000 likes; the ARC page has about 2,500. The WHRC has representatives across at least 25 countries and was established only 18 months ago. The ARC was established 17 years ago.

What’s wrong with the Yogyakarta Principles?

In the Yogyakarta Principles “gender identity” is defined as:

Understanding “gender identity” to refer to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender. Including dress, speech and mannerisms.

As noted by American human rights lawyer Tina Minkowitz, “gender itself is not defined, but is situated in relation to “sex assigned at birth”, with which a person’s internal experience of gender may or may not correspond” and the reference to “sex” is only to indicate that it does not refer to personality traits. “Sex” is not defined either.

Alarmingly, for everyone, “YP implicitly accepts a concept of gender as equivalent to stereotypes. When beliefs about mannerisms, dress and speech appropriate to one sex or the other are abstracted and made to serve as a ground for personal identity, they are shielded from challenge.”

This unravels decades of progress for feminists. The notion that an innate feeling can lead to a change in an individual’s sex status at birth, with the corresponding legal entitlements and access to spaces and places reserved for girls and women (including their sports), is a violation of the protections established over decades for women, beginning with CEDAW.

As Minkowitz further notes, “It is not gender identity that is being protected, but the substitution of internal identity for recorded sex, upon the request of any person”. The legitimisation of this process is simply creating new forms of discrimination against girls and women and is in conflict with CEDAW.

This is not to say that transgender people should not be protected, but replacing “sex” with “gender identity” not only erases sex as a category and girls and women as a class distinct from that of boys and men, but also erases girls’ and women’s human rights.

A significant, currently relevant, example of the consequences of these changes is given by Minkowitz. She states that women have “little reason to expect their rights will be protected, in (a) law and policy environment that treats their discussion of sex and gender as tantamount to hate speech”.

On the matter of “sex” and “gender”, the CEDAW Committee’s General Recommendation 28 emphasizes that changing one’s gender does not change an individual’s social positioning. Gender identity advocates are naïve to think this is possible; the ideological nature of their claims renders them as fictional as the postmodernist thinking upon which they are based.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are six fundamental criticisms of the Yogyakarta Principles and its “Plus 10” extensions:

  1. They were constructed by a few unelected, unrepresentative civil groups and individuals;
  2. They have never been adopted by the United Nations;
  3. They have no legal force either internationally or within Australia and were rejected by the Commonwealth legislature and the United Nations;
  4. The Yogyakarta Principles +10 principles were signed by just 33 people;
  5. They are often quoted misleadingly by members of parliament and trans lobby groups as though they had been adopted by UN resolution; and
  6. Their full implementation would effectively make “sex” a defunct legal category, replacing it by the ambiguous category of “gender”.

This content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

COLUMN BY

Geoff Holloway

Dr Geoff Holloway writes from Hobart. He is a sociologist, poet, author, and Fado fan. His current research interests include domestic violence in Portugal, ecocentrism, Green politics, transgender politics,… 

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EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Surrender Like a Boy Scout

scoutingThere has been much written about the Boy Scouts of America’s recent acceptance of openly homosexual scout masters. The organization has been raked over the coals by the right and accused of offering only a half-measure by the left. But few appreciate what the BSA has actually done — and the BSA has no idea what it has done to itself.

Scouting has never been just about tying knots and learning survival skills, but about instilling virtue and building character. And part of having character means standing up for what you believe is right.

Insofar as this goes, no boy will find the “reformed” BSA organization a good role model.

Whether or not you agree with the BSA’s recent policy change, this is indisputable. Note that when BSA president (and ex-defense secretary) Robert Gates defended the decision, he spoke of how the ban on homosexual adults was “unsustainable,” said that he had “fear” it would mean the BSA’s demise, and spoke about how one couldn’t ignore the changing legal landscape and culture (we can only imagine what kinds of policies he’d have felt compelled to adopt in 1936 Germany or the 1925 USSR). There wasn’t even a pretense at a moral argument. “Instead, he argues from organizational self-interest — never mind if it is right or wrong…. Duty to God and country? To heck with that — management always has its own priorities,” as National Review put it in a scathing editorial.

Of course, it isn’t hard to figure out that, much like the leper character in Braveheart, Gates is a perhaps proud compromiser; he wants to mollify the sexual fascists while tacitly saying to traditionalists, “I don’t want to do it, you see; we have to — to survive.” Well, there’s a new scout survival skill for you. Perhaps now they’ll have courses in political expediency and realpolitik and merit badges in waving white flags and lying prostrate.

It’s not that Gates is wrong about the culture’s trajectory, the legal challenges or what they portend for the BSA. But the organization was being sued six ways to Sunday 15 years ago and bravely held the line. What’s different today? Sure, the wider culture has degraded further — but so has the BSA’s internal culture.

Lost in this whole debate is that allowing openly homosexual BSA leaders is not movement toward equality — that notion is marketing — but away from it.

After all, there have always been homosexual scout leaders, just as there have been those who were adulterers or fornicators. But they generally “kept up appearances,” which, while paling in comparison to actual virtue, is the next best thing. But while the last two groups are still presumably expected to keep it in the closet, the group that always feels compelled to wear its sexuality on its shirtsleeve will be out and “proud” in the bush.

And, really, it wouldn’t even matter now if adulterers and fornicators followed suit. It is certainly true that being “morally straight” (part of the BSA oath) involves more than just sexuality; it is also true that sexuality is an integral part of it. And, obviously, the BSA’s sexuality model was always Christendom’s traditional one: sexuality is to be confined to a married couple (man and woman, by definition), period. Some will now protest, saying that the BSA never dealt with sexuality at all. No, not explicitly, but it isn’t only what’s mentioned explicitly that matters. There’s no such thing as a value-neutral environment. “Values are caught more than they’re taught,” and it is what is assumed that is learned best. If an “out” adulterer, fornicator or homosexual is a scout leader, he’s teaching the legitimacy of the behavior in question in the most powerful way possible: by living it — as someone who is a role model. Moreover, that the BSA allows him to “serve openly” relates a message of organizational acceptance.

So the issue here is the validating of homosexuality in young boys’ minds? Actually, it’s worse than that. Question, how effective is the following message: adultery is a sin, fornication is a sin, polygamy is a sin, but homosexuality? That’s just a lifestyle choice, junior, sorta’ like living on a houseboat.

It’s a what’s-wrong-with-this-picture scenario the dullest student could figure out in a second. Once Scout Master Ken can arrive in camp all joyous and gay talking about the new knot — the one he fancies he’s tied with his “significant other” Lloyd — it’s clear that basically anything goes sexually. Hey, if he can indulge his passions, why can’t I indulge mine? In other words, the acceptance of homosexuality means the complete collapse of the traditional sexual model.

What does this mean for being “morally straight” in general? C.S. Lewis once noted (I’m paraphrasing), “Sex is not messed up because it was put in the closet; it was put in the closet because it was messed up.” And opening that stuffed closet messes everything else up. Similar to how you can’t compartmentalize accepted homosexuality and keep the traditionalist sexual model intact, it’s essentially impossible to compartmentalize widespread sexual vice and keep general virtue intact. It’s as how cancer metastasizing unfettered cannot be kept confined to one organ: vice corrupts the heart, weakens the mind, clouds judgment and creates desire for the justification of relativism (e.g., who’s to say what right and wrong is, anyway? Don’t impose your “values” on me!). This leads to more vice. This is not to say, lest I be misunderstood, that a sexually corrupt people can’t have its virtues. It is to say they can’t be virtuous.

And that is the issue. None of this would be happening if the BSA’s leadership, reflecting moderns in general, weren’t lacking in virtue themselves and hadn’t descended into vice-enabling relativism. Even years ago I fully expected their surrender because I understood that, as Lewis also said, you cannot “make men without chests and expect from them virtue and enterprise.” Robert Gates and most of the rest of the BSA leadership are men without chests; they have no heart for the fight because they have no principles, and they have no principles because they started believing not in principles but provisional values.

As far as the BSA’s mandate of creating boys with chests, the organization long had to fight the corruptive wider culture. But now it has collapsed, completely and likely irrevocably, its own internal culture. And for what? A slight reprieve? A stay of execution? Gates has said he didn’t foresee the rapid cultural changes (a tipping point, really) of the last several years. What he also doesn’t see is that he has merely “traded the Sudetenland for peace in our time.” And he will learn that this peace is fleeting with people whose “truth” changes with time, people who tolerate no dissent, honor no compromise and take no prisoners.

The BSA decided that it profited the organization to lose its soul so it could gain the world. Its punishment will be, I suspect, that it will end up without either.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts prepare to lead marchers while waving rainbow-colored flags at the 41st annual Pride Parade on June 28 in Seattle, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide. Photo by Elaine Thompson — The Associated Press