Donald Trump, a man who’s claimed that nobody has more respect for women than he does, and his administration have dealt another blow to women having sent a lobbying group labeled a hate group and another known for its anti-equality stance to the United Nations for the 61st annual Commission on the Status of Women, a series of meetings about women’s equality currently taking place, reports The Independent.
One group, the Center for Family and Human Rights, has been labeled a hate group for the last five years by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which wrote in 2014 that the group had lobbied “against sexual and reproductive rights, abortion, and LGBT people at the UN and abroad for years.” The organization is an offshoot of the hard-line anti-abortion group Human Life International, whose violent tactics made it too controversial for the U.N., reports the SPLC, a civil rights organization.
The second group Trump sent to the crucial meetings about women’s rights is the Heritage Foundation, and while it’s not labeled a hate group, it has taken a deeply antiwoman stance, referring to the U.N.’s commission on women as the U.N.’s “misguided women’s agenda,” adding that conventions aimed at equality for women “undermine family, religion, and sovereignty.” The Heritage Foundation has recently called on the Trump administration to cut federal spending for programs that combat violence against women, labeling such programs a “misuse of federal resources and a distraction from concerns that are truly the province of the federal government,” according to a statement from OutRight Action International, an international human rights group.
OutRight executive director Jessica Stern said the two offending groups will "quite literally be in the room where governments negotiate” the document that will then be taken back to countries to help outline their future commitment to working for equality for women. Stern also suggested that Vice President Mike Pence, whose anti-LGBT record is well-documented, was likely the driving force behind sending the groups to the commission, according to The Independent.
But since the Center for Family and Human Rights's mission, according to its website, is "to defend life and family at international institutions,” women are not its only target. Like the Heritage Foundation, the center has actively fought against LGBT rights, which is what landed it on SPLC's list of hate groups. Its leader, Austin Ruse, has supported the criminalization of homosexuality, calling it "harmful to public health and morals," Heidi Beirich, SPLC’s Intelligence Project director, told Reuters.
The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, is the head of the U.S. delegation, and it’s anticipated that she will interact with the two groups at some point during the meetings, which run through March 24.
Stern said that sending the antiwomen, anti-LGBT groups to the U.N. takes the State Department in an “ugly direction,” adding, "We want the State Department to be a beacon of freedom and safety for communities, and this is the opposite of that."