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S. Slater: A Call to Preserve the Institution of the Family

Presented to a symposium on the International Day of Families
United Nations Headquarters, New York USA, May 17, 2010

I have been asked to only touch briefly on the topic of migration since the topic is being amply covered by the other speakers. I will focus the bulk of my remarks on the institution of the family.

Regarding migration, it is critical that migration policies prioritize keeping families intact. Shwe Lah and his wife Chu Paw, political refugees sent from Burma to the United States have six children but only their two youngest were allowed to migrate with them.  Their older children were sent to different countries. The parents are now struggling (the father had his leg blown off when he stepped on a mine in Burma) and certainly would have benefited from the support of their older children. Family-friendly migration polices can prevent situations like this.

The International Covenant on Population and Development (5.7) states that

“immigration and refugee movements are an additional source of family tension and disintegration. In many urban environments, millions of children and youths are left to their own devices as family ties break down, and hence are increasingly exposed to risks such as dropping out of school, labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.”

In other words, as families break down, children suffer and are at risk for a myriad of problems. The answer to many world problems is quite simple—strengthen the institution of the family.

Governments have a huge interest in protecting the family.  And when I use the word “family,” I am not using the new popular definition of any sexual arrangement between adults with children in their household.  I am using the traditional definition of the family which consists of married parents and their biological and/or adopted children and their extended families. This does not mean I intend to denigrate or discriminate against single parents, many who find themselves caring for children alone, but rather, I am going to show you why governments have a vested interest, financially and otherwise in seeking to promote and strengthen the traditional married mother/father family structure as the norm.

I am also going to present evidence that governments have an interest in promoting sexual relations within the confines of a married relationship only.  Research shows when sexual relations occur outside the bonds of marriage, generally, there are negative consequences to the individuals and to society, but especially to children. And it doesn’t matter if that sex is premarital, extramarital, heterosexual or homosexual; any sex outside of the confines of marriage generally leads to negative outcomes for all.

Family Watch has collected extensive research in this area which is summarized in our new book, Stand for the Family: A Call to Responsible Citizens Everywhere. In the interest of time I will put up just a few slides showing outcomes for men, women and children based on family structure and sexual relations.

Show slides (Click here to see slides.)

Further research indicates that societies that have deviated from monogamous man/woman marriage become weak. Back in 1935, renowned anthropologist Joseph Daniel Unwin, seeking to prove that man/woman marriage was an irrelevant and harmful cultural institution, was surprised to find exactly the opposite. He found that societies that did not regulate sexual relations and channel them within the confines of a monogamous relationship became weak and were more likely to be conquered by stronger nations.

Similarly, after studying the history of hundreds of cultures, Pitirim Sorokin, founder of the Sociology Department at Harvard, found several decades later that virtually all political revolutions that brought about societal collapse were preceded by a sexual revolution in which marriage and family were devalued. He stated:


Any considerable change in marriage behavior, any increase in sexual promiscuity and illicit relations, is pregnant with momentous consequences. A sex revolution drastically affects the lives of millions, deeply disturbs the community, and decisively influences the future of society.

The founders of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights intuitively understood this.  Article 16 of the UDHR states that the family is “the natural and fundamental group unit of society” which “is entitled to protection by society and the State.” Article 29 outlines the rights of Member States to establish laws that meet “just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.”

A popular refrain today is that morality cannot be legislated. But that is exactly what all laws do. Every law either prohibits or encourages specific actions or behaviors. In democratic societies, laws are based on the people’s collective ideas on what is best, right or moral.

The United Nations was never intended to try to override Member States’ laws and policies upholding morality. Yet that is exactly what certain elements within the UN system are currently attempting to do, and in the process they are undermining the institution of the family which is protected by laws that uphold morality. When laws that govern sexual relations are liberalized, and moral standards are denigrated as outdated or as a violation of fictitious rights, family disintegration increases and nations suffer economically and otherwise.

And what is the financial cost of family breakdown to governments?A landmark study released in 2008 revealed that the breakdown of the family costs American taxpayers a staggering $112 billion every year!1 Governments make vast expenditures to address family breakdown associated with divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing and for anti-poverty, criminal justice, and education programs serving children and adults from broken families.

The cumulative cost of national, state, and local expenditures due to family breakdown, over the last decade in the U.S. alone was more than $1 trillion!

If we could calculate the costs to governments due to family breakdown in every country of the world the number would likely be in the tens of trillions.

The governmental costs of addressing the AIDS pandemic alone, a disease which is largely driven by people having sexual relations outside of the confines of marriage is astronomical. The answer to the AIDS pandemic is to confine sexual relations within the confines of marriage. This is not rocket science.

Yet I, along with many of you have sat through a number of UN meetings where provisions have been proposed to try to establish a right to engage in the very same high risk promiscuous sexual behaviors that fuel the AIDS pandemic, ironically, all in the name of HIV/AIDS prevention.

This is not only insane, it is deadly.

UN negotiations increasingly have devolved into late night battles over “sexual rights.”  In addition, UN agencies have been working in partnership with NGOs to produce sexual education programs that promote sexual pleasure to youth.

At this year’s Commission on the Status of Women, this booklet I hold in my hand, called “Healthy, Happy and Hot” was distributed by an accredited NGO to youth in attendance.  The booklet promotes promiscuity and sexual pleasure and purports to teach youth about their so-called “sexual and reproductive rights.” It claims these “rights” are recognized by the world as “human rights.” It tells youth they can have sex in numerous ways too graphic to repeat in a forum such as this.  It is all about sexual pleasure through masturbation, with people of the same sex and even while intoxicated with alcohol.  But even worse, this booklet actually tells HIV-infected youth that laws requiring them to disclose their status with their sexual partners violate their human rights.

This should not be tolerated at the UN or anywhere else!  It is unconscionable that youth are being encouraged at the UN and through sex-ed programs created by UN agencies to have sex with anyone they want, any way they want.

Why is it that the developed world is seeking to use the UN system to import their radical sexual ideologies to developing countries under the deceptive banner of “sexual rights” or “sexual health and rights” or “information regarding sexual health and rights” or “services and information on reproductive health and rights” or any of the many and multiple sexual references proposed in UN documents?

Why are UN monitoring committees permitted to reinterpret carefully negotiated UN treaties and to pressure UN Member States, in some cases successfully, to change their laws that uphold the moral standards in their societies, almost always in ways that undermine the institution of the family?

How is it that UN rapporteurs are using their positions to promote sexual rights and to try to redefine gender for the whole world as something a person can choose and change at will?

How can it be that eight UN rapporteurs helped create and signed onto a radical sexual rights document, the Yogyakarta Principles, and then one of them tried to promote this document in his report to the General Assembly? UN rapporteurs are supposed to be unbiased people of high character, not sexual rights advocates taking advantage of their UN positions to promote sexual agendas.

How is it that the UN has strayed so far from its original purpose?

And what is to be done about all this?

The manipulation of UN negotiations, UN treaties and monitoring committees and the blatant promotion of radical sexual ideologies by UN rapporteurs must be stopped as this multi-pronged push at the UN for sexual rights undermines the institution of the family.

Like-minded UN member states and NGOs need to work more closely together to actively and aggressively push back against this all out assault on the institution of the family.

I chair the UN Family Rights caucus which held its third meeting at this year’s Commission on the Status of Women. We need more government delegates to work with us on a regular basis to promote a coordinated proactive strategy to stop sexual rights activists from manipulating the UN system to advance their agenda at the expense of the family.

We need to work together to identify more countries that are willing to speak up in defense of the family during UN negotiations.

We are grateful to all of the UN member states that voted in the General Assembly last December to refuse to endorse the deliberate misinterpretation of a UN treaty by a UN committee to somehow include protections for “sexual orientation and gender identity.” We need to ensure that any newly proposed conception of human rights (such as “gender identity and sexual orientation”), which are not specified in core human rights instruments are not retroactively linked to UN documents by activist UN committees in the future.

We are also grateful to the Member States that refused to endorse the report of the UN rapporteur who grossly overstepped his mandate in his report to the General Assembly by attempting to redefine gender and in promoting the radical Yogyakarta Principles.

But much more needs to be done.

The mission of Family Watch International is to promote family-based solutions to world problems.  Strong, stable families are the answer to many world problems such as poverty and diseases such as AIDS.  Family Watch looks forward to continuing our work with UN Member States and family-oriented NGOs to protect and promote our world’s greatest asset—the institution of the family, which is entitled to special protection by society and state.

  1Benjamin Scafidi, Principal Investigator, “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing: First-Ever Estimates for the Nation and All Fifty States,” Institute for American Values (2008): 5.