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Panel bars UN links to two more gay rights groups
By Irwin Arieff
A U.N. panel this week barred two more gay rights groups from having a formal voice at the United Nations after blocking two others earlier this year, diplomats said on Friday.
Votes to deny the groups "consultative status" at the world body took place in the U.N. Economic and Social Council's Committee on Nongovernmental Organizations, which wrapped up its latest eight-day session on Friday.
A total of 2,870 nongovernmental organizations have such status, enabling them to distribute documents and speak at meetings of some U.N. bodies and conferences.
The committee, which holds sessions twice a year, this week rejected applications from The Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany and ILGA-Europe, a chapter of the International Gay and Lesbian Association.
During its first 2006 session, which took place last January, the committee rejected the Belgium-based International Gay and Lesbian Association and the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians.
The United States -- which voted against U.N. recognition of the two groups considered in January, prompting criticism from several human rights groups and 45 members of the U.S. Congress -- voted in favor of the two groups put to a vote this week.
But motions by Iran to reject both applicants were nonetheless approved 9-7. Voting "no" both times were Cameroon, China, Iran, Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Sudan and Zimbabwe. Voting against rejection were Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Peru, Romania and the United States. India and Turkey abstained.
While some committee members expressed concern the rejections revealed a discriminatory pattern, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Vatican's U.N. observer, said U.N. consultative status was not a question of human rights.
All four committee votes are subject to review later this year by the full 54-member Economic and Social Council.
In reversal, U.S. backs U.N. role for gay groups
But overall vote still goes against consultative status
By JOSHUA LYNSEN | May 17, 6:19 PM
UPDATED: May 19, 9:36 AM
United Nations member states again denied gay groups the ability to officially influence proceedings, but the United States is now backing efforts for inclusion.
Mark Bromley, a spokesperson for international human rights organization Global Rights, said United Nations members opposed granting consultative status to a German gay organization and the International Lesbian & Gay Association's European office.
The two groups were denied the consultative status May 16 and May 17, respectively. The special status is required for any organization hoping to speak at United Nations meetings or lobby member nations.
"We were pretty outraged," Bromley said, "as were a lot of other organizations."
Bromley said that Global Rights, which has consultative status, assisted both groups with their bids to join. Global Rights supports gay rights, but also advocates for other human rights issues. Bromley said that no gay-focused organizations have yet received consultative status from the United Nations, despite several attempts in recent years.
An estimated 3,100 organizations have consultative status at the United Nations. Those groups primarily participate in social and economic discussions.
Another vote is pending for a Canadian gay organization seeking consultative status. Bromley said that application likely also would be denied.
According to Global Rights, most nations voted to reject the applications from ILGA and the German group. Opponents included China and Iran. France and the U.S. were among the nations that voted to support the applications. Bromley said it was significant that U.S. officials voted May 16 and May 17 to support the applications. In a vote earlier this year, U.S. officials opposed applications by gay-focused groups.
"I think that sort of the big change from our perspective – and the small victory – is that the U.S. government changed its vote," he said. "That's a real step forward."
Following the January vote, a coalition of 40 organizations, led by the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, urged Bush administration officials to support future bids by gay groups.
Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland (LSVD)
International Gay and Lesbian Association
Landsforeningen for Bøsser og Lesbiske (LBL)