In its five short paragraphs, the Cape Town Declaration recognizes the family as the “first and primordial community” and “the bedrock of civil society.” It reaffirms “the dignity of marriage as the conjugal bond of man and woman,” and defines marriage “patrimony of all mankind” and “heart of any just social order.”
The Declaration draws upon recent Human Rights Council resolutions and echoes Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) on marriage.
It was launched by the International Organization for Marriage (IOF) and has already been signed by hundreds of religious, political, and social leaders.
Although the text reiterates many binding UN treaties, as well as in several constitutions of UN Member States, LGBT groups and same-sex marriage promoters immediately accused the organizers of “using” the International Human Rights Day, December 10th, for the unveiling. They called the leader of IOF, Brian Brown, an “anti-gay activist,” and labeled all signatories as anti-LGBT advocates even though nothing in the text speaks of violence, intolerance, or exclusion nor would deny those who identify as LGBT their freedom to engage in consensual sexual relations.
The drafters’ stated purpose for the declaration is the international defense of the family, and, in particular, for preserving a definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman, while rejecting the extension of family rights and prerogatives to same-sex unions.
“Human beings thrive in communities,” the Declaration states, “And every community finds its foundation where every human being deserves to begin: in marriage. Here a man and a woman commit to join their whole lives as one family and seal their love as one flesh. They show forth the fidelity and unity-in-diversity of any healthy community. Thus do they secure for any children born of their bond, the birthright of all men: to know the faithful love of the man and woman whose union gave them life.”
Among the goals of the signatories are the promotion of purity and of fidelity, and the discouragement of pornography, adultery, and divorce. Following Pope Francis’ request, they commit to resisting “the ideological colonization of the family.”
The Declaration is also meant to widen the scope of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) into an international coalition. The IOM was prominent in the campaign against homosexual marriage in the US Similarly, a coalition was formed at the beginning of last year to reaffirm the dignity and the rights of the family.
The coalitions seek to rally civil society to reassert with their governments the fact that the traditional family is recognized and requires protection according to foundational UN human rights documents. Since 1948, UN human rights treaties recognize the traditional family as the “natural and fundamental group unit of society.”
Along with US participants, Cape Town hosted leaders from Spain, Italy, France, Austria, Slovenia, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Moldova, Serbia, Russia, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.