GENEVA, (Reuters) – The main global grouping of gays and lesbians, ILGA, has been formally recognised by the United Nations against strong opposition from African and Islamic countries, according to a U.N. report issued yesterday.
Human rights activists said the move, by the world body’s Economic and Social Council or ECOSOC, marks a major breakthrough for sexual minorities at the U.N. at a time when they are under increasing pressure in some developing countries.
In a vote overturning the stand of a New York-based U.N. committee, ECOSOC approved the granting of consultative status to ILGA — which has been seeking admission as a recognised non- governmental organisation (NGO) for over a decade.
Consultative status means ILGA — the International Gay and Lesbian Association which says it has 670 member groups in over 110 countries — can attend U.N. meetings, speak, and provide information to U.N. bodies on treatment of gays.
It will also be able to take part in meetings of the Geneva- based Human Rights Council, where anti-gay sentiment is strong but which last month narrowly passed the first-ever U.N. resolution on violence against homosexuals.
The overwhelming Monday vote, at a summer session of the 54 -member ECOSOC, was hailed by the United States and Belgium as rejecting what they called prejudice and discrimination against gays shown by the smaller NGO committee in New York.
A total of 29 countries — mainly European and Latin American but also including India, South Korea, Japan and Mongolia — voted to admit ILGA, while 14 — all African and Islamic countries plus Russia and China — were against.
There were 5 abstentions.