Editor’s Note: Subsequent to publication of this story, the UN clarified that by “sexual conduct involving” those below the age of consent it meant to include only incidents in which both parties fit the criteria. It was not immediately clear if the UN intended to correct its imprecise wording.
A United Nations-backed report published last month suggests global leaders normalize pedophilia by allowing children to legally decide on engaging in sexual activities with adults.
Wrapped inside a human-rights-based analysis on the impact of criminal laws proscribing sexual and reproductive health rights, consensual sexual activity, and gender ideology the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ), UNAIDS and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published the report — which calls for offenses related to “sex, drug use, HIV, sexual and reproductive health, homelessness and poverty” to be decriminalized.
“Sexual conduct involving persons below the domestically prescribed minimum age of consent to sex may be consensual in fact, if not in law,” the Geneva-based ICJ wrote.
Authors of the report further advise lawyers, judges, and law enforcement to consider “the rights and capacity of persons under 18 years of age to make decisions about engaging in consensual sexual conduct and their right to be heard in matters concerning them.”
“Pursuant to their evolving capacities and progressive autonomy, persons under 18 years of age should participate in decisions affecting them, with due regard to their age, maturity and best interests, and with specific attention to non-discrimination guarantees.”
The report took over five years to develop and based its findings on feedback and reviews from jurists, academics, legal practitioners, human rights defenders, and various civil society organizations. Such results primarily focused on the impact of criminal laws proscribing sexual and reproductive health and rights, consensual sexual activity, gender identity, gender expression, HIV non-disclosure, exposure and transmission, drug use, and the possession of drugs for personal use, according to the report.
According to the UNAIDS, 20 countries criminalize or otherwise prosecute transgender people, 67 countries still criminalize same-sex sexual activity (with 10 imposing the death penalty for it), 115 countries criminalize drug use, more than 130 criminalize HIV exposure, non-disclosure, and transmission, and over 150 countries criminalize some aspects of prostitution.
“Criminal law is among the harshest of tools at the disposal of the State to exert control over individuals … as such, it ought to be a measure of last resort however, globally, there has been a growing trend towards overcriminalization,” Ian Seiderman, Law and Policy Director at ICJ, said in a news release. “We must acknowledge that these laws not only violate human rights, but the fundamental principles of criminal law themselves.”
Retired Judge Edwin Cameron of the Constitutional Court of South Africa argues criminal law deems some groups protected and others condemned and ostracized.
“In this way, the criminal law performs an expressive function — and it has dramatic consequences on people’s lives,” Edwin wrote. “It sometimes entails a harshly discriminatory impact on groups identified with the disapproved or stigmatized conduct.”
The report also argues killing unborn children in elective abortions is a human right, calling for decriminalizing the procedure and removing punishment for pregnant mothers who consume drugs or alcohol during pregnancy.
“Abortion must be taken entirely out of the purview of the criminal law, including for having, aiding, assisting with or providing an abortion …” the report states.
Officials published the report on March 8 in recognition of International Women’s Day, alleging a connection between women’s rights and the age of sexual consent.
Women’s rights activist Michelle Uriarau of Melbourne, Australia, tweeted that publishing the report on International Women’s Day succeeded in “gaslighting women everywhere.”
“This hideous UN report … seeks to decriminalize sex — even between children and minors. Evil,” Uriarau said.