Why Is the Religious Right Attacking UNICEF? You Might Not Believe the Answer

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Right-wing group Family Watch International says UNICEF is “sexualizing” children by supporting sex education.

By Amanda Marcotte | Alternet/Salon

On Tuesday, people walking by UNICEF’s headquarters in Manhattan were met with a strange sight: A group of protesters accusing the venerable United Nations children’s welfare organization of harboring a shadowy pedophile agenda. They held professionally printed signs reading „UNICEF Sexualizing Children“ and „Shame on UNICEF“ while Sharon Slater, the head of a group called Family Watch International, accused the organization of „a hidden agenda that nobody knows about: to sexualize children.“

One could be forgiven for dismissing these protesters as raving wingnuts spouting an outlandish conspiracy theory. Peter Montgomery, a senior fellow at People for the American Way, says it’s more complicated than that.

“I don’t think people should take them lightly or laugh them off, as if they’re some fringe group,“ he told Salon. „Sharon Slater is very active at the UN, in partnership with other religious right groups that are active internationally.

“They’re happily working with the world’s most oppressive regimes to protect ‘traditional family values’ around gender and sexuality and family,“ he added, pointing out that Family Watch International has partnered with repressive nations like Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran to hold events at the United Nations.

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