The Trump administration this week named representatives from two intensely anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ groups, C-Fam and the Heritage Foundation, to be part of the official U.S. delegation to the session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, which began on Monday and runs until March 24.
The State Department’s press release announcing the delegation calls the session “the most important annual meeting on women’s issues at the United Nations.” But just last week, in an email titled “Seven Days to War…Meet the Enemy, Learn Their Names,” C-Fam called it “one of the most dangerous meetings of the year.” On Monday morning, C-Fam sent out an email calling the session an “assault on life and family” and begging for money, portraying themselves as a “small and relatively weak” organization pitted against the “rich and powerful” forces such as the U.N. human rights office; now they are part of the official U.S. delegation.
C-Fam, formerly the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, and its leader Austin Ruse are so committed to enshrining “traditional” ideologies about gender, marriage and family in international law that they have teamed up with many of the world’s most repressive regimes to carry out their fight at the U.N. The Heritage Foundation is at the heart of a massive Religious Right coalition pushing to give business owners a broad legal right to discriminate against LGBT people and families as well as single parents based on their holding traditional religious views about gender, marriage and family.
Trump’s massive expansion of the global gag rule already made it clear that his administration was willing to target some of the world’s most vulnerable people in order to meet the demands of his Religious Right base. Ruse recently complained about efforts by other nations and nonprofits to mitigate the harm of Trump’s policy on public health efforts in poor countries. The official appointments of C-Fam and Heritage effectively remove any lingering doubts about the Trump administration’s abandonment of what has been important U.S. advocacy for reproductive health and LGBTQ human rights around the world.
OutRight Action International, a human rights group active at the U.N., decried the appointments. “Fundamentalist notions about how women and girls should behave should never be the basis of advising or negotiating US foreign policy,” said Executive Director Jessica Stern in a statement. She also called it “a bad sign that two organizations that have tried to delegitimize the United Nations and human rights internationally now sit on the official US delegation.” Stern held out hope that even in the face of these appointments, the U.S. might be willing to support Commission on the Status of Women conclusions condemning discrimination.
The delegation will be led by anti-choice U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley and her deputy Michele Sison. Joining them as Public Delegates will be Lisa Correnti, C-Fam’s executive vice president, and Grace Melton, Heritage Foundation associate for social issues at the U.N.