Norm catches out an Archbishop claiming that Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and then engaging in some poorly chosen analogies. But Norm misses the reason the Archbishop's argument is wrong. Article 16:

  • (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  • (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  • (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Article 16 should be read with reference back to the Preamble, italicized section mine:
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, 
See also Article 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which has a companion article in the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:
The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant.
Article 16's reference to "men and women" is intended to indicate, as the other texts make clear, that this right in particular belongs to both men and women. There's nothing in the travaux (at least that I'm aware of) that interprets Article 16 as "men can only be married to women," unsurprising in that the possibility this might not be the case probably didn't occur to anyone (though Article 2 of the ICCPR, which appears also in the ICECSR, says that rights must be protected for everyone "without distinction of any kind," with a following list intended to be illustrative but not, according to the language involved, exhaustive). Nevertheless, it's a violation of both the text itself and the original intent of its framers to read it in this way.

No comments: