Healing Old Wounds: Gay Rights Group is Readmitted to the United Nations

This week, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) received accreditation at the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). ILGA campaigns internationally for LGBTI rights and is an umbrella organization that connects 670 member groups in 110 countries. The granting of consultative status by ECOSOC will allow the group to advocate for greater U.N. support of LGBTI rights through reports, panel discussions, and their presence at U.N. conferences and meetings. The road to the decision-makers’ table was not a simple one for our colleagues. In 1993, ILGA became the first international explicitly LGBTI rights organization to be accredited by the Economic and Social Council. The consultative status was withdrawn a year later after ECOSOC objected to the mission of some of ILGA’s member organizations. Although ILGA amended its constitution in order to comply with U.N.’s strict guidelines, the U.N. NGO Committee unjustly decided not to readmit ILGA. This type of rejection was not specific to ILGA. Between 2006 and 2010, no less than ten applications from gay rights organizations were denied accreditation by the NGO Committee. All of these decisions—except for ILGA’s—were eventually overturned by ECOSOC due to clear violations of the U.N.’s nondiscrimination policy, granting accreditation to the groups. Finally, this week’s vote restored justice to ILGA as well. As delegate from Venezuela explained his country’s decision in support of gay rights groups, “More space should be allocated to organizations pursuing such work.” The decision comes only a month after the passage of a historic resolution supporting equal rights for LGBTI persons by the U.N. Human Rights Council. The Resolution calls, among other things, for a study “to document discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.” Considering that ILGA has done extensive research on policies regarding LGBTI persons throughout the world, their accreditation could not have come at a better time. While the conditions for gay man and women have been improving over the years, we’re witnessing numerous pushbacks, such as the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda. Even the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, is reportedly off to a bad start on LGBTI rights: President Salva Kiir Mayardit is vehemently opposed to homosexuality, which can be prosecuted under the country’s 2008 pre-independence penal code. We at Human Rights First—which was granted consultative status by ECOSOC in 1991—congratulate our colleagues with this victory and will continue collaborating with ILGA and its member groups to promote better policies for protection of LGBTI individuals and to push back against government persecution of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals across the world. Follow us on Twitter @0discrimination.

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Published on July 28, 2011

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