Gay campaigners back UN membership

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Around 100 gay campaigners and support groups have signed a petition calling on the United Nations to approve consultative status for four lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisations.

Organised by John Fisher, of Canadian gay group, ARC, the document aims to ensure the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians, the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, and ILGA-Europe, are recognised as non governmental organisations.

The document called on the United Nation’s Economic and Social Council “to overturn the refusal of the NGO Committee to grant consultative status to NGOs addressing the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and to reconsider the applications of ILGA, LBL, LSVD and ILGA-Europe on their merits.”

Last May, despite support from the US, LSVD, the German lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) federation and the International Lesbian and Gay Association’s (ILGA) applications to obtain observer status at the United Nations were rejected.

“It is sad that an august body such as the NGO Committee would be the source of discrimination against LGBT people. The rejection of LSVD and ILGA-Europe this May, following the rejection in January of Danish Association LBL and the International Lesbian and Gay Association, clearly demonstrates the homophobia of many States sitting at the NGO Committee” said Rosanna Flamer Caldera, co-secretary general of ILGA.

“This sadly coincides with the second commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, May 17”.

Compared to January’s vote there was some change, the US went from against to “in favour,” Colombia from abstention to “in favour” and Cuba from against to “not present”.

The representative of Iran, supported by Sudan argued member groups of ILGA were now applying for ECOSOC status when this NGO had not, according to her, succeeded in proving it had taking sufficient measures to prevent or fight paedophilia.

ILGA’s constitution condemns paedophilia and a very strict set of rules makes sure no association which wishes to affiliate with the NGO condones paedophilia.

“Neither ILGA nor its two members were given the opportunity to counter this slander which was given without any substantiation, after they all had previously put in writing their condemnation of paedophilia” said Philipp Braun, co-secretary general of ILGA. At this stage, we, and the rest of the world with us, can only witness how a certain number of governments will use any excuse to block the door to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender group in the United Nations.”

“We are satisfied though, ILGA’s campaign to support its member groups in their application for ECOSOC and have homosexuality and gender identity come out at the UN is going well and has forced this committee to engage a dialogue on our issues.”

ILGA is also asking LGBT groups which are not member of its federation of 500 LGBT groups to apply for observer status at the UN. “It will be most interesting to see how the NGO Committee will react then…”

Germany stressed that the accusation of paedophilia was absurd against an NGO such as ILGA Europe which enjoys consultative status with the Council of Europe, receives project funding from the European Union and has spoken to the OSCE on human rights defenders.

In general statements before the vote and explanations of position, the representatives of Germany, France, Chile, Romania, India and Peru, noting that during the session, applications of two NGOs addressing the same issue had been rejected, expressed concern that there seemed to be a discriminatory trend. “As homosexuality was a delicate issue, a constructive dialogue between the Committee and the NGO would have been welcome” they noted.

Earlier this year in January, the NGO Committee had dismissed the applications of the International Lesbian and Gay Association and the Danish Association of Gays and Lesbians (LBL).

The UN is meeting in Geneva today to discuss the issue.