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UDHR article 16

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on June 4, 2008


About two years ago a gay man came into Human Rights Network and pleaded with the general public to extend the right to marry to GLBT people. He cited UDHR article 16:

Men and women of full age have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

Full text of Article 16

He then ventured into a refutation of the notion some have that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman – unfortunately he failed to use the most basic of refutations, which was right there in how the article is worded, and I am afraid that he might have antagonized his audience slightly.

UDHR Article 16 does not specify what gender men and women of full age have the right to marry. And that is the point – the very moment you define marriage as anything but what is defined in the UDHR or try and legislate a definition of marriage, you are in violation of the UDHR.

Many people hold the notion that homosexuality is unnatural, but they fail to understand the most basic fact about “natural” and what it is – “natural” is what comes natural to us – for gay people heterosexuality is not “natural”, homosexuality is. For straight people homosexuality is not “natural”, heterosexuality is. Because our sexuality is not a choice, it’s part of our make-up as humans, something we are born with.

Article 16 in the UDHR is not the only Human Rights Article that supports GLBT rights to equal marriage rights – Articles 12 and 22 do too:

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to
attacks upon his honour and reputation.

Article 22.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Marriage as a legal contract between two people, in most civilized societies, includes economic, social and legal rights, privileges and obligations that are part of the basic human rights enumerated in the UDHR. Unless we want to claim that Gays and Lesbians are not human or are not part of the “Everyone”, we have to grant them equal rights, also when it comes to marriage, including the right to call their union “marriage”.

The wonderful thing about human rights is that I don’t have to agree that all are entitled to them, I only have to extend them to all.

Analogy: I am against abortion – I truly think that it is something that should be avoided – but I also recognize that others feel and think differently, and that I really do not have a right to make choices for others. Therefore it is my human obligation to make sure that abortion is a legal and available option.

Same thing with same-sex-marriages – people may feel that marriage is something that should be only between a man and a woman – but as they have no right to restrict other peoples’ options and possibilities, it is their human obligation to make sure that same-sex marriage is a legal and available option, so that Gays and Lesbians are guaranteed the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for their dignity and the free development of their personalities.

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4 Responses to “UDHR article 16”

  1. vitaminbook said

    Analogy: I am against abortion – I truly think that it is something that should be avoided – but I also recognize that others feel and think differently, and that I really do not have a right to make choices for others. Therefore it is my human obligation to make sure that abortion is a legal and available option.

    Finally, someone who thinks about abortion exactly the same way I do!

    I agree completely with this article. I’m gay, so obviously I’m in support of allowing same-sex marriage, but I’ve been consistently bewildered at how people make the jump from ‘I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman’ and ‘I believe that marriage should be between a man or a woman, and my belief should overide that of all others’.

    I tried leaving a comment here yesterday, but I don’t think it went through…let’s try it again 😉

    It’s good to see someone discussing homosexual marriage without exclusively referring to the United States constitution. I’ll definitely be reading more in the future.
    Great post.

    Comment edited by Admin to comprise of two comments

    Like

  2. It went through, Vitaminbook 🙂

    It’s just that I have the blog set so that I have to approve the first comment a visitor makes. After this your comments will appear as you make them.

    Btw – Welcome!

    I am as confused as you – it seems like people think they are the only ones in this world.

    Being a religious (Jewish) person I can intellectually understand where some of these people are coming from – but from a spiritual point of view I am totally clueless.

    Regardless of one’s religious rules, one cannot impose those on others, as they are a matter of belief. As I said above, I am against abortion, except when there’s a threat to the mother – that is the traditional Jewish position, and I agree with it, but I can only accept “the rules” for myself. I.e my religious belief is a matter between me and my G-d. If I believe that all humans are equal to me, I have to hold true that their religious belief (or lack thereof)is between them and their G-d. Even if I think that our actions have consequences, and that having an abortion for any other reason than threat to the mother, is unethical, I still have to consider that action something between the individual and their G-d, and not something I should really have any views on. This reasoning is applicable on everything, including same-sex marriages, or whatever people think should be regulated by their specific belief. It is beyond me why people don’t get this.

    As for not referring the American Constitution – I am not American and don’t live in the US, and the Constitution of Sweden is so boring and hard to read 😀

    I am glad that you came by – welcome back!

    Henric

    Like

  3. vitaminbook said

    Whoops, sorry about the comments!

    I think it’s a matter of maturity. Whether we like it or not, most of us are, at some point or another, immature about our beliefs. Obviously we think that what we believe is true or ‘the best’ in some sense (otherwise we probably wouldn’t believe it), so it’s only natural that we sometimes take affront to other people believing different or contradictory things. When deeply held beliefs come into play, like religion or politics – things that can define who we are – we can get very touchy about others criticising them.

    What’s amazing is how freeing it is to realize that what you believe doesn’t have to be what everyone else believes. To use one obvious example, I’m an atheist. You obviously aren’t, but the only situation in which that would bother me would be if you were demanding that I live according to your beliefs, while in fact you’re saying the exact opposite of that. With other relligious people I’ve met, it’s nearly impossible to have a civil discussion with them, let alone to disagree peacefully.

    Out of curiosity, what’s the traditional Jewish opinion on homosexuality? Is it similar to that of Christianity?

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  4. Out of curiosity, what’s the traditional Jewish opinion on homosexuality? Is it similar to that of Christianity?

    Pretty much yes.

    However, I don’t subscribe to it – obviously – lol

    Here’s what I believe:
    Leviticus 18:22 according to Rabbi Ishmael
    and
    One Guy’s Struggle with Leviticus 18:22

    Henric

    Like

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