For Brazilian delegates, it was a matter of basic justice: all people, regardless of sexual orientation, should enjoy human rights. For traditional believers, however, the resolution Brazil introduced at the 2003 meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights was nightmarish. By recognizing the concept of “sexual orientation,” it would have legitimized homosexual behavior. Worlds away, in Gilbert, Utah, a midnight warning call jolted Lynn Allred awake. Allred, communications director for United Families International (UFI), a nondenominational “pro-family” NGO, made a lightning decision. She would jet to Switzerland because UFI must “show up everywhere marriage and the family [are] under assault” – or “those who oppose [them] will win by default.” Other Christian groups joined her, but all faced a problem. As NGOs, their influence was limited.
So the activists turned to another wing of their loose-knit network, Muslim countries including Egypt and Pakistan. Nor was this move unprecedented. In fact, this “Baptist-burqa” link had been forged long before. At the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995, the NGO Coalition for Women and the Family had denounced lesbian delegates for their “direct attack on the values, cultures, traditions and religious beliefs of the vast majority of the world's peoples.” Hammered out of this and earlier perceived threats to traditional families, the network has endured for years. Indeed, the relationship hinges as much on cross-religious trust, toleration, and respect as on tactics. Listen to UFI's Lynn Allred idolizing a favorite delegate as Superman: “I discovered a secret about our Egyptian friend Amr Roshdy during our time in Geneva. I began to suspect that beneath his shirt and tie there was very likely a big red ‘S.’ In his work at the United Nations, Amr is a fearless defender of the family.” Less breathlessly, the head of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), has long urged a “permanent UN pro-family bloc”: Our “victory will come” from this “potent alliance between Catholic and Muslim countries…new in the world, new to history,” what “[o]ur enemies call…an un-holy alliance.”