Gay groups push for UN recognition

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

A campaign by the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) to encourage lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups to apply for recognition a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) at the United Nations (UN) has been backed positively by organisations across the world.

The groups that applied by the May 31 2006 deadline include the Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros (ABGLT), COC Nederlands, the Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales (FELGT) of Spain, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ), Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), and the Riksförbundet för sexuellt likaberättigande (RFSL) of Sweden.

Over 2,700 NGOs have consultative status at the UN, which allows them to participate fully in global debates such as at the newly formed Human Rights Council, by circulating written statements, giving oral statements, and organising side events.

Currently, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has not granted this status to a single national or international LGBT organisation. In January 2006, the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and the Landsforeningen for Bosser og Lesbiske (LBL) of Denmark were denied consultative status by ECOSOC’s NGO Committee in an unprecedented procedural move led by Egypt and the Organisation of Islamic Conferences.

In May 2006, consultative status was also denied to ILGA-Europe and the Lesben und Schwulenverband in Deutschland (LSVD) of Germany, although the ECOSOC appeared less hostile in this round of applications. Cuba went from opposing consultative status to simply not being present for the vote, Columbia went from abstaining to voting in favour of consultative status, and the United States changed its position and supported the two groups as a result of intensive lobbying efforts.

Next month, the full 53 member ECOSOC will consider the rejection of the applications of ILGA, LBL, LSVD, and ILGA-Europe by the NGO Committee. ILGA and its NGO allies will campaign for recognition of LGBT NGOs at that time. The latest wave of applications will extend the campaign for UN recognition into 2007, when the six new applications will be considered by the NGO Committee.

“The six organisations that submitted applications in May 2006 demonstrate that LGBT issues are critically important around the world, including religious communities and the Global South,” said ILGA co-secretary General Rosanna Flamer Caldera.

Co-secretary General Philipp Braun said: “With the valuable contributions of ABGLT, COC Nederlands, FELGT, GALZ , MCC, and RFSL, LGBT groups will continue to demand attention at the UN until we are properly recognised and our voices are heard.”