Pro-Family Voices Defend Rights of the Family at the Organization of American States

This past June 19th, Population Research Institute’s Sergio Burga Álvarez delivered an address before the ambassadors at the 47th Regular Session of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Cancun, Mexico. Burga, representing the “Coalition of Democracy and Human Rights,” expressed the sentiment of 670 parliamentarians from various Latin American countries, calling on the OAS to abide by the terms and limits of its mandate and to cease promoting gender ideology on sovereign Member States.

“We ask that [the OAS] ceases their intention to impose an agenda that promotes an ideology that has nothing to do with the will of the people, but, on the contrary, subtracts from the authority of their legitimately elected representatives,” Burga said.

Pro-family Member States in the OAS General Assembly subsequently successfully blocked attempts to incorporate language condemning “homophobia and transphobia” and attempts to include, for the first time, the term “intersex” in the session outcome resolution.

Because OAS Member States have not defined the terms “homophobia,” “transphobia,” or “intersex,” observers believe that inclusion of these terms in an OAS resolution would have been interpreted broadly and expansively by pro-LGBT countries, like Canada and the United States, and could have been used in the future in attempts to pressure Latin American countries to legalize “same-sex marriage.”

The OAS is the world’s oldest regional intergovernmental institution. Its precursor, the International Union of American Republics, predates both the League of Nations and the United Nations. The OAS was established to ensure peace and security, democracy, national sovereignty, solidarity between nations, social justice and fundamental rights throughout the Americas.

Every sovereign country in the Western Hemisphere, with the exception of Cuba, [1] is a member of the OAS and bound by its Charter. The OAS Charter guarantees Member States the right to political independence, self-defense, and territorial integrity in accordance with international law.

A majority of OAS Member States have also ratified the American Convention on Human Rights. Article 4 of the Convention explicitly protects the right to life “in general, from the moment of conception.” Article 17 of the Convention furthermore protects the rights of the family as “the natural and fundamental unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state.” The OAS is bound to respect the Convention for states that have ratified it.

Despite the guarantee for the independence of states in the OAS Charter and the rights secured by the American Convention on Human Rights, the OAS, at the highest levels, has routinely pushed for the legalization of abortion and the acceptance of gender ideology in Member States.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro has made it clear that he believes Latin American countries ought to legalize abortion. Almagro believes the legalization of abortion is not simply one among many issues but rather a priority that ought to take precedence over key economic and development goals such as reducing unemployment.

“The Americas continue to have some of the most restrictive laws regarding sexual and reproductive rights and freedoms, and that reality has to change,” Almagro said in an address delivered at the 2015 UN Women conference “Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action,” “first, we have to fix this kind of genocide [i.e. the failure to legalize abortion]…then, we can deal with other matters, such as why women are the poorest, the most unemployed, why their salaries are the lowest, why we need to increase women´s political participation.”

The OAS has advocated strongly for the acceptance of gender ideology throughout Latin America, particularly through the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an organ of the OAS responsible for promoting human rights in the Americas. IACHR ensures that Member States respect rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights[2] and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.

Earlier this year, the IACHR called upon all OAS Member States to normalize and promote trangenderism, advocating for its acceptance through the force of law. IACHR has asked Member States to “adopt urgent measures to mainstream a gender identity approach into public policies.”

“The States of the region have a commitment to adjust their legal frameworks so that we have an Americas that leaves cisnormativity behind,” IACHR President Francisco Eguiguren Praeli publicly remarked on the occasion of “Trans Day of Visibility.” By asking American nations to leave “cisnormativity behind” Praeli has called upon independent states to reject the integrity of male and female, motherhood and fatherhood, and the natural complementarity inherent and evident in human nature.

It is within this context that PRI’s Sergio Burga Álvarez addressed ambassadors at the 47th Regular Session of the OAS. Excerpts from his speech are translated into English and reproduced below:

Honorable Ambassadors, representatives of the independent Member States, Honorable Mr. Secretary General of the OAS:

We would like to thank you for this opportunity you have given us to be able to express the view shared by millions of people who do not have the opportunity to present in this forum, but who have worked together for years to defend our values and the disadvantaged […]

We want to take this opportunity to express our deep concern for what has recently been taking place at the OAS, specifically some of the actions taken by members of some of the organs that make up the OAS: (i) the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), (ii) the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), (iii) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CIDH). Their actions have not only violated rights established in the American Convention on Human Rights but also overstep the mandate that has been given to them by the Member States [of the OAS].

We view with concern that non-binding resolutions continue to include language and create supposed ‘rights’ when these are not agreed to by our States through treaties which actually are binding. Subsequently, these resolutions are later used to pressure the countries into accepting this new language.

For example, the CIDH has incorporated the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” that have not been accepted nor defined by the nations. The CIDH took these so-called terms from the Yogyakarta Principles, a document produced by a group of private individuals with special interests, which is not binding on states. Furthermore, they have gone so far in this instance as to add a new category not previously agreed to: “intersex.” None of these terms are found in international treaties ratified by the nations. Moreover, [the CIDH] continues to delegate the authority to supposed experts, commissioners, and judges to, not interpret, but rather reinterpret the treaties, changing completely the intent of such treaties agreed to by the States.

We are not able to speak about democracy when the OAS is not capable of respecting the will of the people through their legitimately elected representatives, that is to say, their parliamentarians. Too often, the Commission of Human Rights, the CIDH, and the CIM, and even the Secretary General, have exceeded the mandates of their offices, and have overstepped the bounds of the agreements and mandates granted to them by the States. These excesses threaten the democratic process, the will of the people, and the rule of law.

At the same time, we want to take this opportunity to call upon the Honorable ambassadors who are our voice before this organization. We want to remind you that your duty is with your citizens and with the law of the States that you represent. It is your duty to respect the will expressed in the international treaties that have been signed and ratified, in other words, validated by the legitimate representatives of the people and not by authorities that do not understand the internal reality of nations and that have not been chosen by us to decide.

It is for this reason that we support and applaud the Declaration of Mexico, presented in Mexico City this past June 15th, in which more than 670 lawmakers from all over the region participated. The Declaration of Mexico calls upon [the OAS] and its institutions to stop imposing gender ideology on us and to once again begin abiding by the legal framework that has been given to them. [The OAS’s actions] undermine the authority that has been legitimately conferred upon them as elected representatives of their people.

To conclude, we ask those in leadership positions at OAS to respect the legal framework under which they were legitimately authorized to act. Likewise, it is urgent that mechanisms for transparency and accountability be strengthened. Failure to secure transparency and accountability would negatively affect the credibility of the OAS, failing to respect the principles on which it was founded: democracy, security, human rights, and development.

It is necessary that the OAS work harder to strengthen the democratic process and to intervene in cases where the most fundamental rights of the human person are violated such as poverty, hunger, violence, lack of access to medicines, etc. This is the case with our brothers and sisters in Venezuela who are suffering due to the absence of political freedom and the correct application of the principles for which the OAS was created.

We ask that [the OAS] ceases their intention to impose an agenda that promotes an ideology that has nothing to do with the will of the people, but, on the contrary, subtracts from the authority of their legitimately elected representatives. And to our ambassadors, we call upon them to be brave and to defend the voice of their people.

Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute Latin America Office, contributed to this article.


[1] Venezuela signaled this past April that it will withdraw from the OAS.

[2] Only applies to state parties (i.e. countries that have ratified or acceded) to the Convention.


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