Claims are being spread about the supposed consequences of misgendering people. Image by EPA PHOTO

Crime against humanity claim is ‘hyperbolic nonsense’

David Williams April 26, 2024

A United Nations (UN) proposal will make misgendering people a crime against humanity.


False. The proposal has nothing to do with misgendering and will not make it a crime against humanity.

The United Nations may soon classify misgendering or even quoting scripture as a crime against humanity, according to posts on social media.

This is false. The UN held wide-ranging meetings about crimes against humanity in April 2024. This included a discussion on gender, but only in regards to a proposed change in how gender is interpreted in modern society.

Legal experts told AAP FactCheck the claim is “hyperbolic nonsense”.

The claim was made in a Facebook post on April 1.

“Apparently killing and maiming people with experimental mRNA shots is not a crime against humanity but misgendering someone or quoting scripture will be,” text with the post states, referencing anti-vaccine sentiment.

A screenshot of the Facebook post.
 The posts have been labelled nonsense. 

It also shares a screenshot, stating: “The United Nations is voting on a proposal in a few days that aims to include misgendering, publicly expressing simple biology, or even quoting scripture as UN Crimes Against Humanity.”

The same text is used in an X post, and is taken from a blog about a petition from the CitizenGo group.

The blog states: “The UN is contemplating a treaty change that equates traditional values with some of the gravest crimes known to humanity.

“This unprecedented move seeks to erase the biological definition of male-female from the Rome Statute, potentially criminalizing anyone who dares uphold these truths.”

The petition refers to UN discussions on the International Law Commission’s (ILC) draft articles on Crimes Against Humanity, which may form the basis of a future UN convention.

The draft articles define crimes against humanity as offences, such as murder, enslavement or torture, “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack” (page 2).

They are now before the UN’s Sixth Committee (Legal), which debated them in sessions between April 1-5.

One discussion topic involved the “Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court” on which the ILC’s draft articles model definition of crimes against humanity.

In Article 7, paragraph 3, the Rome Statute defines “gender” as “the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society”.

The draft articles omit this definition. In its commentary, the ILC explains (page 45) the definition does not reflect developments in international human rights and criminal law.

Nigeria expressed concern during the Sixth Committee debates over the biological gender definition being deleted, but other nations supported its exclusion.

No vote was taken on a possible convention on crimes against humanity, as claimed in the Facebook post, and the sessions concluded on April 11.

Rosemary Grey, a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School who attended the UN discussions, told AAP FactCheck the claims had no credibility and were misinformation.

An open Bible (file image)
 Quoting scripture also isn’t a crime similar to genocide. 

“Regardless of how ‘gender’ is defined, misgendering a person or quoting bible passages will not satisfy the definition of a crime against humanity,” Dr Grey said in an email.

“For starters, that kind of conduct does not rise to the level of ‘persecution’ as defined in the draft articles on Crimes Against Humanity, nor the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (the ICC Statute), on which the draft articles are based.”

Dr Grey said misgendering also does not satisfy the contextual element for a crime against humanity, as it was not “part of a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population”.

“For these reasons, there is no doubt that CitizenGO’s claims are misinformation. Legally speaking, their claims have no merit. It’s just hyperbolic nonsense.”

Rachel Killean, also from the University of Sydney Law School, said the threshold requirements for crimes against humanity made it seem “hysterical” to claim misgendering would be included.

She said the Rome Statute’s gender definition simply failed to reflect current realities.

“I think the ILC’s decision to remove this definition is to allow for more flexibility and to avoid a definition that’s not only regressive but also a bit nonsensical (male and female in the context of society),” Dr Killean told AAP FactCheck in an email.

Dr Killean said misgendering or quoting Bible scripture could only be considered crimes against humanity if they were knowingly committed during widespread or systematic gender persecution which included large-scale acts of violence.

The Verdict

The claim that a United Nations (UN) proposal will make misgendering people a crime against humanity is false.

Deliberations regarding the wording associated with crimes against humanity are ongoing. Regardless, misgendering does not satisfy the definition of such crimes, experts told AAP FactCheck.

The possible removal of a definition of gender is aimed to reflect modern society, experts added.

False — The claim is inaccurate.

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