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