Students defend the family at UN conference

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Students from BYU recently faced some fierce debates head-on with the United Nations in New York City.

Four students from BYU and a student from Arizona State University attended a conference with the UN in New York City to represent United Families International on July 25 and 26. Many young people attended the conference to discuss issues facing the upcoming generation. Among the issues discussed was the sexual rights debate. Abortion and homosexual marriage were at the forefront of the debates, along with the idea that young people, including adolescents, should have no sexual restraints.

Faith Goimarac, a BYU student who attended the conference, said she was surprised sexual rights were the most important subject of debate among the youth at the conference.

“The whole thing was disturbing how much they thought that’s all there is to being a youth, that this is the most important right that they have and the most important thing to their future,” Goimarac said. “It was a little disgusting to me.”

Marcia Barlow, a BYU and Harvard alumna, led the team representing UFI. She said the sexual rights agenda being pushed by the UN is to allow the youth to freely exercise their sexuality as a human right as long as there is consent between participants. She said those who stand for decency and the traditional family are now viewed by the UN as being outside the mainstream of society.

“It [the UN’s perspective] is very radical stuff,” Barlow said. “The interesting thing is that to the UN, it is not perceived as being radical, it is perceived as being mainstream. Anyone with traditional values or religious values in any fashion is viewed as an interloper and an obstructionist.”

Niels Wankier, another BYU student in attendance for the UFI, said participants had planned objectives heading into the debates. The plan was to create a document, as the UN usually does in its conferences, to describe their concerns with certain issues, in this case the family. The pro-family side was hoping to have a fair chance to advocate their side in the creation of the document. Wankier said they did not get that chance.

“They kind of went ahead and made the document by themselves,” Wankier said. “We found out the day before the actual conference that the document was finished, and that we wouldn’t be able to help influence the negotiating or the changing of that document.”

Goimarac said the UN didn’t represent their side of the debate fairly.

“They were not very open-minded to our point of view,” Goimarac said. “They had premeditated responses to each of our arguments, and there was very little opportunity for us to speak up.”

Despite the heavy opposition to the pro-family point of view UFI was hoping to advocate, Barlow said the team advocating UFI did good simply by standing up for its side.

“Their mere presence met the objective,” Barlow said. “The opposition knew we were there, and we had very articulate, well-put-together young people who could stand and said what needed to be said. The opposition knew that there were young people in the world who didn’t think like them, and still carried the understanding that marriage is between a man and a woman and that sexual orientation issues are not something that needs to be made a human right.”

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