International human rights activists accuse U.S. of pitting religious freedom against other rights. The rebuke refers to a commission established by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July 2019.
The "Commission on Inalienable Rights" established by the U.S. State Department is using it as a pretext for violations of the rights of women and homosexual and transgender persons, according to a statement released Friday (local time) by 167 human rights activists and groups from 28 countries.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had established the commission in July 2019 as an advisory body to distinguish between "inalienable" rights and so-called ad hoc rights. This is "worrying," activists say.
Do not use religious freedom as an excuse for discrimination
In addition, he said, members have been appointed who have a proven record of opposing access to sexual and reproductive health services, women's human rights, and the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. This also concerns the denial of abortion and contraception on religious grounds.
While religious freedom is a fundamental human right, it should not be used as a pretext for discrimination, activists say. "Redefining some rights, and thus some people, as 'less equal' only increases inequality, insecurity, and injustice," criticized Amanda Klasing of Human Rights Watch.
Criticism of Trump administration
"The Trump administration has routinely used religious freedom as a tool to discriminate against women, girls and LGBT people," said International Coalition for Women's Health President Francoise Girard.
Commission is "a persistent attempt to create a hierarchy of rights and deny the world's most marginalized people their basic rights". A "dangerous precedent" is being set here for backward-looking governments worldwide, Girard said.