The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) has instituted a procedure to monitor and assist the establishment of its global Human Rights Agenda among member states. It is known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), established by the UN General Assembly in 2006 as a process through which the human rights records of the United Nations’ 192 Member States could be reviewed and assessed. This review, conducted through the UN Human Rights Council, is based upon human rights obligations and commitments expressed in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human rights instruments to which the State is party.
Individual countries are slated for review every four years, with Malaysia scheduled for its review in 2013. UPR sessions take place at the HRC in Geneva, and are framed by reports submitted by national governments.
This will be Malaysia’s best chance to influence and steer the global community away from its headlong rush to secular values and legal attitudes, now proceeding apace.
These values and procedures were not even envisioned as being part of the original Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Malaysia and most Muslim countries signed freely some years ago, not realizing what they were in for. It has now become apparent that western secular thinking is using the HRC to implement its ethical thinking – uncontrolled by any prophetic sensitivity or revelation whatsoever.
This is not the type of secular system devised by the Founding Fathers of the USA to put an end to European royal dictates into religious affiliation and styles of worship, a principle that was widespread at the time. Religious freedom was the aim of historically authentic secular thinking and its barrier between “church and state”, sort of an “iron wall” built for protection.
This “iron wall” built as a barrier in those days was understood to be the manipulation and usurpation of religious groups by a corrupt European Royalty for their own worldly purposes, without much protection from the Catholic Pope in Rome. Part of this “wall between church and state” was the Protestant Revolution led by Martin Luther in Germany, and part of it led to the formation of the Anglican Church, with its worship service still somewhat similar to Catholic formalism and ritual.
A more recent occurrence of secularism, especially since 9/11, has reversed this meaning by mistrusting religious communities from interfering in any way with political leadership without doing more harm than good. The secular governments and ideologues are attempting, among other things, to gain consensus among the United Nations 192 member states as to various actions that are needed to protect freedom of gender choice, and sexual behavior “between consenting adults” that may be other than the bipolar male/female standard. This is part of the dominant secular priority – absolute personal freedom, uncommitted to previous prophetic teaching and thinking, or even all known generations of previous human history and custom.
This corruption of the historic concept of human (as opposed to animal) sexuality has become openly assertive with the rise of “LGBT” – lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender behavior. Quite naturally, after an entire human history of sexually bipolar thinking evolved to protect the human family and civilization, “LGBT liberation” attracts resistance in many areas of the globe. How are these people to be given personal and legal security when their deviant behavior cannot be condoned by the majority of the civilized community among which they live? And do they have a “human right” to such physical and legal protection?
To begin with, we must insist to the secularists that causation arguments are often fallacious. There are more than a dozen species of the herring fish, none of them colored red. Therefore, the English idiom, “red herring” refers to any factor in an argument or explanation that is NOT actually a causative factor, although it may be put forth as such.
For example, most women from very poor, usually tropical economies are uneducated and therefore often oppressed by their husbands. For example, Bangladeshi, African, and other village women worldwide are waging a desperate campaign for access to resources and employment (such as through micro-financing), which their men do not freely share with them. It may seem that these women are oppressed because they are Muslim or because they wear headscarves, yet the “operant variable” (in scientific terms) is their poverty and lack of education, not their religion or dress code. Suppressing women’s education (no part of the actual Islamic teaching) has become a major “red herring” of the Taliban campaign to capture power in Afghanistan.
Religious ideals and behavior are often held responsible as “red herrings” in the assigning of blame for traumatic and often violent events. Samuel Huntington made a relevant phrase popular, aside from his infamous “culture clash”, and that is, “Islam’s bloody borders”. He attempted to support this concept with the aid of simple statistics. His implication is that these “bloody borders” are to be blamed upon something systemic or inherent in the religion of Islam itself. In other words, Islam is a real cause, not simply a “red herring”, in all this cross-border violence and terrorism, and perhaps always will be.
This is the usual secular suspicion, lacking further study or even interest in a more careful assessment of the situation. If any word most describes young western visitors to such a Muslim community as, for example, Yogyakarta itself, it would be “oblivious”. These are not uncaring or violent people. They are simply oblivious to local sensitivities, whether religious or social. And they do not care to become any less so. The average length of a tourist visit to Yogyakarta is three days, and the local people are perfectly happy to get rid of them as soon as possible after they have spent a certain amount of money.
So, unacceptable to over a billion Muslims as they are, what ARE the metaphysical assumptions behind the snowballing secular movement to legally protect non-binary gender or “LGBT” behavior, and to make that philosophy binding upon all United Nations members? We must make the non-Muslims aware of their own assumptions and biased attitudes in this campaign, and we must most certainly refuse to give in to them by co-signing any further “international agreements” that do not control for such assumptions on the secular side, and remove them from referring to their position as “universal”.
Issues of personal privacy, physical security, and social harassment must be addressed, but not in the terms so obviously repeated time and time again in the Yogyakarta Principles, namely, “red herring” causation ascribed to the gender-aspects of the behavior itself. One question is, how do we offer physical and legal protection for purveyors of human behavior that is morally repugnant to us? The eventual exoneration of Anwar Ibrahim from years of such harassment brought a sense of relief to many perhaps because it is, as the OIC has stated, almost an impossible issue to adjudicate in the courts of Muslim countries.
There are many deep social and historical reasons for hostility to the public promotion of “LGBT” behavior and rights, and the public campaigns of people in both Malaysia and the United Nations who wish to repeal Malaysia’s anti-sodomy laws, must be sensitive to the deeper realities which protect the ultimate survival of human civilization. Nevertheless, the infamous Penal Code Section 377 outlawing sexual acts “against the laws of nature” were brought into the legal codes of many Muslim and other countries by the Victorian British, not by the Shari’ah itself.
The genetic scientist who stated that, “There is no moral imperative in protecting the human gene pool” may be seen as a highly-educated traitor to the Divine Mission of the fully human soul on this earth, which is to complete the Prophet Adam’s mission of reaching “from the mud to the stars”. Perhaps then, extensive religious and public education and awareness as a government policy might be a better position to take in addressing the “LGBT” issue around the world.
At the World Conference on Human Rights held in Vienna in 1993, it was explicitly agreed that whenever considering the issue of human rights, national and regional particularities, including various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds, must be borne in mind. Malaysia is in the forefront of Muslim societies whose responsibility is to achieve this balanced understanding by means of an acceptable formulation of Human Rights, and other Muslim countries will surely look to her for leadership in making the attempt at the 2013 Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations.
AZRIL MOHD AMIN is vice president, Muslim Lawyers Association of Malaysia.