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Gaining the right to speak in our name at the UN: NGO Committee votes not to grant status to CGLQ and to postpone RFSL to May

in WORLD, 01/02/2007

As a result of a vote, requested by the delegations of Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Qatar and the Sudan, on the application of Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec -- a national organization in Canada, aiming to promote, represent and defend the rights of the homosexual community -– the Committee decided not to recommend the NGO for consultative status.

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Six delegations -– Colombia, Israel, Peru, Romania, United Kingdom and the United States -–
voted in support of the NGO; eight -– Burundi, China, Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation and the Sudan –- voted against, while three -- Angola, India and Turkey -- abstained and Cuba and Dominica were not present.

The representative of the United Kingdom, explaining his delegation’s position, said that every NGO meeting the criteria from ECOSOC resolution 1996/31 deserved to be granted consultative status, regardless of its nature. The resolution explicitly confirmed the need to take into account the full diversity of NGOs. The Coalition obviously had fulfilled the criteria, as much of its work covered the fields of health, gender and human rights. The NGO would add an important voice to the activities of the United Nations.

The session had recommended over 100 NGOs for consultative status, some of them might espouse views that were not shared by all Governments. “We may disagree with them but that doesn’t mean we should exclude them,” he stated. The Coalition had provided frank and satisfactory responses to all questions. “No credible reason can therefore be presented for refusing them consultative status, except that of straightforward discrimination,” he said and announced that his delegation would continue to argue for the full inclusion and involvement of NGOs representing the gay and lesbian community.

After the vote, the Observer of Canada expressed her dismay at the result and her concern at the Committee’s “pattern of discrimination” in its treatment of applications from organizations dealing with issues related to sexual orientation. Her Government was familiar with the organization and supported its application.

A decision on the application of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights -- a national organization aiming to improve the situation for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people through working to end oppression and discrimination and by lobbying politicians and authorities to improve legislation –- was deferred until May’s session, as several delegates needed more time.

Addressing questions and concerns from the representatives from the United States, Pakistan, Egypt, Romania, Guinea, United Kingdom and Burundi, the NGO’s representatives stressed that they condemned all forms of sexual violence and violence against children and were against paedophilia. They explained instances where members of the organization had been voted down on such subjects. They stressed that the NGO complied with all Swedish laws and, in instances of cooperation with foreign NGOs, followed the laws of the countries where the organizations concerned were based. When addressing students in secondary education, the NGO representatives talked about the fact that two people of the same sex could love one another, not on how to have sex. The organization’s position was that adults might seek sexual pleasure, but were not allowed to harm other people involved. It had no position on seeking pleasure by harming oneself.

Expressing support for the NGO, the Observer of Sweden stressed that the organization had, since the early 1950s, advocated for the rights for all persons, regardless of sexual orientations. The Swedish Government held the organization in high regard and had regularly consulted it.

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