UN council votes to recognise global gay grouping

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.

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