Gender as Anti-Church Code

Oh dear: I seem to be experiencing another anti-Catholic moment. (Last month’s anti-Catholic moment, you will recall, concerned the way the Church in Boston is behaving like a bunch of thugs as it tries to evade responsibility for ruining many people’s lives: this piece by Christopher Hitchens also deserves a link). This month’s takes a different tack:

Vatican Says Word ‘Gender’ Is Anti-Church Code(WOMENSENEWS)–The Vatican announced it will publish a collection of phrases and words including “reproductive rights” and “gender” that it says are code for anti-Catholic sentiments.

The Vatican said these and approximately 76 other neutral-sounding terms about family and life are used to cover up deeper, anti-Church meanings, according to The Associated Press. The Vatican will publish the 1,000-page lexicon of the terms soon.

In an interview with the religious affairs monthly journal 30 Giorni (30 Days), Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said the phrase “reproductive rights” is misleading because it “is used for propaganda–not for the right to reproduction but . . . to abortion,” The Washington Times reported.

The Vatican decided to create the book after nongovernmental organizations complained about “ambiguous” words and phrases used at United Nations meetings…

It will be great fun to get a copy of this thousand-page lexicon when it comes out, which will be required and entertaining reading. But what’s sad — more than sad, in fact — is that this isn’t just the usual run of harmless religious lunacy, since these interventions on the subject of “gender” have a real impact on the development of the international legal regime.The International Criminal Court website, for example, trumpets this:

“The Rome Statute explicitly recognizes rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization and sexual violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Trafficking is encompassed within the crime against humanity of enslavement. Also, for the first time, gender-based persecution is included as a crime against humanity. The codification of these crimes in the Statute is significant as prior humanitarian law has afforded trivial treatment to such grave violence.”

This sounds excellent, and indeed, it mostly is. Turn to Article 7, Paragraph 3, however, and you find the weaselly definition of “gender” being used by the Statute, negotiated by the Vatican and supported by various Islamic regimes and the United States (which isn’t proposing to cooperate with the Court after all):

It is understood that the term ‘gender’ refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term ‘gender’ does not indicate any meaning different from the above.

So much for the work of a generation of gender studies. And so much for the human rights of transsexuals and other gender queers who alone seem to be exempted from international legal protections against gender-based violence. The small print bit: Credit where it’s due: the above information came to me via Raj, but is originally from Women’s Enews, which is a nonprofit independent news service covering issues of concern to women and their allies: an incubator program of the Fund for the City of New York, Women’s Enews is supported by readers and various progressive foundations. Donate now by going here.

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