United Nations bans African LGBT groups from AIDS conference after veto from member states

A number of LGBT groups have been blocked from attending a United Nations AIDS conference after ‘objections’ from a number of states.

The UN is set to hold a “high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS” next month from June 8 to June 10, with countries and organisations from around the world attending to formulate new action plans.

However, after objections from Egypt on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation group, a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with links to LGBT rights have been blocked from attending.

No reason was given for the decision to ban the groups – but Ambassadors from the US, the EU and Canada have all slammed the decision, which they say is aimed at stopping LGBT groups including African Men for Sexual Health and Rights and Ishtar Men Who Have Sex With Men, and the Asia Pacific Transgender Network.

NGOs from across Egypt, Guyana, Jamaica, Peru and Ukraine are banned as well as pan-African groups.

The US Ambassador Samantha Power expressed concern in a letter to General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft.

She wrote: “We are deeply concerned that at every negotiation on a new General Assembly gathering, the matter of NGO (non-governmental organization) participation is questioned and scrutinized.

“The movement to block the participation of NGOs on spurious or hidden grounds is becoming epidemic and severely damages the credibility of the U.N.

“Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/Aids pandemic.”

It’s not the first time that the UN has seen tensions over LGBT rights.

The UN recently launched its global goals as a series of ‘ambitious targets’ for its 193 member states related to poverty, equality and ending climate change – but overt references to LGBT equality were stripped out of the final agreement.

The body also sparked fury by appointing Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s most repressive and homophobic countries, as the chair of a UN panel on human rights.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe recently ranted against “new rights” for gay people in a UN speech, shouting “WE ARE NOT GAYS”.