So-called “traditional values” are not human rights

States advocating traditional values in reality aim at raising their own cultural norms and particularities above international law and standards. Giving legal force to the concept of traditional values opens the door to a dangerous framework, where States and non-State actors can invoke this concept to justify human rights violations.

In its intervention at the Human Rights Council on 12 March 2013, the Human Rights House Foundation expressed its regret that the Council’s Advisory Committee does not firmly affirm in its report that the concept of traditional values does not have a legal basis. Human rights are based on international treaties and are therefore enriched in law domestically, regionally and internationally, unlike traditional values.

The concept of traditional values cannot even be invoked to justify the protection of cultural diversity and integrity, which are already embedded in various instruments of international human rights law. While the integrity and importance of cultural rights are recognized by all, they are part of the obligation of any State under international human rights law.

HRHF also called upon the Human Rights Council to hold strongly its mandate on the protection and promotion of human rights and to reject any initiative that “undercut the principle of universality of human rights, namely that human rights are the same for all individuals, everywhere at all times,” as laid down in article 5 in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in various human rights instruments


As part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values, in January 2013 the Russian Federal Parliament passed in first reading the law against “Propaganda of homosexuality”, already enacted in several Russian cities.  The law makes it an offense to distribute “information that can harm the health or the process of moral and spiritual development of minors” on the official pretext that “homosexuality creates distorted perceptions about social equality of traditional and non-traditional family relationships.”

As in many others countries, Russia justifies violating rights of LGBT people because of traditional values.



September 22, 2020

Патрабуем неадкладнага вызвалення палітзняволенай, праваабаронцы ПЦ “Вясна” Марфы Рабковай

Супольная заява беларускай праваабарончай супольнасці.

September 18, 2020

New UN human rights investigative mechanism in Belarus must accompany political dialogue

After holding an urgent debate today to scrutinise the serious human rights violations surrounding the 9 August presidential election in Belarus, the UN took immediate action, mandating its most senior human rights official to outline a process for accountability in Belarus before the end of the year.