Posted by Henric C. Jensen on May 26, 2006
Someone suggested that we petition the UN to have Article 16 of the UDHR amended to include wording about gender orientation.
I wrote a short reply, that I would like to elaborate on.
While most countries’ basic civil rights are covered by the UDHR or based on the UDHR, Human Rights are not the same as Civil Rights. Civil Rights are something that is the result of a democratic process within individual countries, that democratic process has to be allowed to take it’s time. There are other things to consider, that is also covered in the UDHR, such as f.i Freedom of Religion – while you and I have no patience for countries that are ruled by religious laws – and many of them has strict laws against f.i homosexuality – they have to be allowed to plod through the mud of realizing ‘their error’ at their own pace, or there will most likely be disaster. We see what happens when values are forced on people very clearly f.i in Iraq. Article 16 is clearly vague as to what is intended as ‘marriage’, and I think it’s intentional, FDR and Eleanor were no fools…By wording article 16 this vaguely it leaves room for interpretation in accordance with where each country is on the democratic ladder, thus allowing them to evolve naturally along necessary paths.
In our Western, and supposedly civilized Society, we very often assume that all countries on earth would be so much better off if they were all ‘democratic’, ‘capitalistic’, ‘Xian’, and run by the same rules that we apply in our countries – thus we look down on those countries that have not adopted ‘our ways’. Or we try and force ‘our ways’ on them, as can be witnessed in Iraq and other countries that have been invaded by a Western country during the later part of the 20th century. We seem to forget that UDHR actually covers also the right to adopt any kind of government, belief, justice system and political system is deemed most proper at any given time in a country’s history.
Sid Meyer’s Civilization IV, which I and my wife play often and are very fond of, gives an interresting hint to Humanity through a quote from Winston Churchill: “It has been said the Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
No government is worse than any other, all provide benefits and drawbacks to those living in them, some benefits works better for some and some drawbacks are not as bad as they seem – it’s just a matter of where you are standing and what you want.
Building a working society takes time – and it has to, because a society is made up of individuals, and each of those individuals have to be given room, time and trust to move in directions he or she feels are most beneficial to them. It’s no use holding free and democratic elections in countries that up till five years ago were based on feudalism and theocracy – why? Because democracy requires a shift of understanding of authority both within the ruling classes and the ruled classes, and unless both Groups have arrived at an individual and from within flowing desire to accept that they are all The People, the rulers after an election will not have the co-operation of the ruled and vice versa. No matter how much we, the Westerners try to force them to adopt our ways – in the end political evolution is just that – EVOLUTION.
That is why the UDHR are strangely vague, in places and positions where, we in the Western Society would often wish for stronger and more direct language.