(CP) A key adviser for the United Nations suggested in a recent report that "discriminatory positions of prejudice" are not protected by religious freedom rights, a report one advocacy group said could have "exceptionally radical" implications for Bible-believing Christians.
Costa Rican lawyer Victor Madrigal-Borloz, whose official title is "Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity" for the UN, made the statement in a presentation to the UN Human Rights Council on June 21.
In his report to the council, Madrigal-Borloz blamed "religious communities" for "violence, discrimination and exclusion" toward gays, lesbians, bisexual and trans-identified people.
After receiving testimony from various LGBT-identified people over the last six years, Madrigal-Borloz said he frequently came across similar situations in which someone who wished to "pursue happiness by embracing their sexual orientation or gender identity" was deterred by the prospect that "the religion in which they were born would consider them as sinful, or evil; as inherently immoral, or not worthy of transcendence."
In one of the report's more targeted allegations, Madrigal-Borloz also referenced "dark corners where LGBT people are regarded as sinners," an obvious reference to the biblical teaching of various Christian denominations.
He also blamed such theology for aiding in the denial of the "right to equality" for LGBT-identified people.
"Laws enacted with the aim of mandating standards of conduct purportedly demanded by interpretations of religious dogma effectively deny [LGBT] and other gender diverse persons the right to equality and, often, equal recognition under the law," he wrote.
Madrigal-Borloz equated "hate speech" against LGBT-identified people with "positing [LGBT individuals] as a threat to the traditional family, and interpreting religious doctrines to exclude and promote violence and discrimination against homosexuality and gender nonconformity."
Religious freedoms, he added, are not adequate legal protection for anyone who uses their beliefs for not only violence but also "denial of the human rights of LGBT persons."
"Violent and discriminatory positions of prejudice are beyond the international legal protections of religious or other beliefs," he said.
While the report does not establish any new UN policy or guidelines, the Office of Independent Expert — which works on a voluntary basis — acts as the "eyes and ears" of the body and presents recommendations based on its findings.
Arielle Del Turco, the director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the socially conservative advocacy organization Family Research Council and co-author of Heroic Faith: Hope Amid Global Persecution, called the report "staggering" and warned it could potentially lay the groundwork for more religious interference from the UN.
While purporting to address violence against LGBT-identified groups, Del Turco said the report does not speak to violence but rather "the failure of religious groups to affirm LGBT identity or behaviour."
"So by the UN independent expert making this report and supposedly trying to find a way for LGBT rights and religious freedom to coexist, we see even that at the very core of the report is a huge elevation for LGBT rights," she told The Christian Post.
"And so for [the U.N. adviser], that's a real problem, and he's trying to get religious groups on board for affirming these identities and behaviours."
Another troubling issue, Del Turco said, is that with this report, the UN appears to be acting as a theological or ideological authority for the religions of the world.
"Essentially, this UN expert is telling religious groups that we ourselves are interpreting our own religions incorrectly, and actually, our religions probably do affirm some of these LGBT behaviours, do affirm gender ideology," she said. "That is exceptionally radical."
Del Turco said much of what is at stake here is not merely religious freedom, but freedom of speech.
She pointed to one section of the UN report titled "hate speech and incitement", which includes a discussion on how religious communities discuss LGBT topics.
"For example, when Christian communities talk about sin, according to their reading of the Bible, that's a problem to these LGBT activists who are now running the United Nations," she said.
"I think this is just a recipe for more and more religious freedom violations around the world."