Substantive changes after signing

The Guardian on that stealth deletion of women’s rights from an already signed statement I mentioned the other day:

The UK government is coming under growing pressure from European countries and human rights groups to explain why commitments to abortion and sexual health rights have been removed from an official statement on gender equality.

The question shouldn’t be why so much as when are you going to put them back.

Norway and Denmark have approached the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) “to protest against the substantive changes” that were made to a paper that resulted from a UK-hosted conference on freedom of religion and belief, opened by Liz Truss earlier this month, the Guardian has learned.

More than 20 countries, including those now complaining, had signed the original text, which included a commitment to the repeal of any laws that “allow harmful practices, or restrict women’s and girls’ … sexual and reproductive health and rights, bodily autonomy.”

See they’d already signed it. It’s pretty outrageous to change a statement after people or countries have signed it, because then the statement is not what they signed.

Plus why put women’s rights in if you’re only going to take them out later?

Plus why tf take them out? Plus why do you think women shouldn’t have rights?

In an open letter to Truss, the foreign secretary and Tory leadership candidate, published on Friday, more than 20 human rights, pro-choice, and international aid groups demanded the government reverse the deletions immediately and explain why they were made.

They get to demand that, because the statement had already been signed. Changing the wording after that is fraudulent.

The international ministerial conference on freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) was held in early July in London. The prime minister’s special envoy on FoRB, the Conservative MP Fiona Bruce, was heavily involved in the event. Bruce is co-chair of the all-party parliamentary “pro-life” group of MPs.

The resulting, amended, statement on gender equality makes a commitment to challenging “discriminatory laws that justify, condone, or reinforce violence, discrimination, or inequalities on the grounds of religion, belief or gender and that restrict women and girls’ full and equal enjoyment of human rights”. It makes no mention of sexual or reproductive rights or bodily autonomy.

Absolute shower.

Marie Juul Petersen, a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights who was close to the process of drafting the first statement, said the second version of the text came as “a big surprise” and a great disappointment.

“I saw the original statement as such a big step forward because this has been a very conflict-ridden area – the relationship between freedom of religion and belief and gender equality.”

Seriously. See: Does Got Hate Women?

Andrew Copson, chief executive of Humanists UK, also said the government was duty bound to withdraw the amendments.

“The government must surely be aware that, given the recent events in the United States, abortion rights are under threat. To amend an agreed statement in such a manner, omitting these rights, is therefore particularly poorly timed,” he said.

“Unfortunately, this supplanting of individual freedom under the guise of “religious freedom” is an example of the right to freedom of religion or belief being abused in order to infringe the rights of others.”

Almost as if that’s what it’s for.

H/t Freemage.

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