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Gaining the right to speak at the UN: UN Committee recommends not to grant RFSL's application for status at the UN

in SWEDEN, 22/05/2007

UN Committee recommends not to grant RFSL's application for status at the UN

May 17, 2007

United Nation’s NGO Committee has voted today, with 8 against and 6 in favor, to recommend denial to RFSL’s application for Ecosoc status at the UN. The final decision will be taken in July when the Ecosoc committee meets in Geneva.

- The decision today proves that issues regarding homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people have a place at the UN and so do the organizations advocating for the issues, comments Sören Andersson, president of RFSL. We are not disheartened by the intolerance and hatred behind the decision but will continue to actively advocate for the issues towards the Ecosoc committee.

RFSL has applied for the Ecosoc status at the UN, a form of observatory status that allows an non-governmental organization (NGO) to participate in certain UN session. The NGO committee which prepares and makes recommendations to the Ecosoc committee has now recommended Ecosoc not to grant status to RFSL. Usually the Ecosoc committee decides in line with the NGO committee but in three cases in 2006 Ecosoc has decided against the NGO committee recommendation and granted status to three LGBT organizations.

The issue of Ecosoc status for LGBT organizations is a controversial matter with the UN system. The opposition is harsh, especially from some totalitarian Muslim states, but they are also supported by some other states.

- It was scary to observe how Egypt tried to use procedural rules to even close our application without further process, comments Maria Sjodin, Executive Director of RFSL.

- The upcoming Ecosoc meeting in Geneva requires active advocacy work from both the Swedish government as well as the European Union. Portugal, in its upcoming presidency, has a special responsibility to promote these issues, concludes Sören Andersson.

RFSL’s application was processed in the NGO Committee in January and was then deferred to this session. At the same time a deciscion was made to recommend denial of status for the application of the Canadian organization CGLQ (Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec). Another two organizations for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trangender people have been processed by the NGO Committee during its May session but they were both deferred to the next session in January. The applying organizations are Spanish FELGT and Brazilian AGBLT. During the entire session Sweden has acted in order for RFSL’s application to be recommended. The Brazilian Government’s representative at the UN, Lucia Maria Maierá, has advocated for the cause of ABGLT during the entire week.

For further comments, please contact RFSL’s Executive Director Maria Sjödin +46 (0) 705 506030 or RFSL’s president Sören Andersson +46 (0) 709 52 51 32


Facts
In favor of recommending status to RFSL:
Colombia, Israel, Peru, Romania, UK and US

Against recommending status to RFSL:
Burundi, China, Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Quatar, Russia and Sudan.

India and Turkiet abstained from voting and Angola, Cuba and Dominica were absent.

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