United Nations recognizes LGBT groups

Anthony Cuesta | December 08, 2006

LOS ANGELES — Gays and lesbians the world over will be able to bend the ears of United Nations officials in the near future, thanks to a resolution recently passed by its Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc).

Earlier this month, Ecosoc granted consultative status to three “non-governmental organizations (NGO) focusing on the rights of gays and lesbians.”

Thanks to the consultative status, the three groups – the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians, the International Lesbian and Gay Federation in Europe and the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany – can now enter the UN, participate in its work, and speak in their own name.

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), a federation of 550 LGBT groups around the world, further explained the importance of last week’s resolution in a release posted on its website.

“The consultative status will allow these LGBT NGO to work directly on human rights and other issues of importance to the LGBT community by allowing access to UN meetings, delivery of oral and written reports, contact with country representatives, and organizing events to facilitate understanding of the abuse and discrimination that LGBT people face around the world.”

Adrian Coman, program manager of the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), congratulated the UN’s newest consultants following passage of the resolution.

“Their addition to the UN NGO family gives more credibility to the United Nations itself,” he said in a statement. “This decision paves the way for LGBT groups from Africa, Asia and Latin America whom we hope, in the future, will be granted consultative status so that a more global representation of LGBT voices at the UN is ensured.”

Added Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of IGLHRC: "As a community, we have pushed through the glass ceiling at the United Nations, and look forward to working with our colleagues to promote greater awareness and response to the human rights violations faced by our communities around the world.”

Although the decision ends years of efforts by LGBT groups to seek relationships with the UN, it is not the first time such groups have been granted such status. The US-based International Wages Due Lesbians and Australian-based Coalition of Activist Lesbians have had consultative status at the UN for years. ILGA gained similar status in the early 90s, only to be stripped of the status at the urging of former U.S. Senator Jesse Helms. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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