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ECOSOC: LGBT voices at the United Nations / Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec (CGLQ) and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL)

in WORLD, 24/07/2007

United Nations Grant Consultative Status to Groups Working to Address Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issues

(United Nations, Geneva, July 23, 2007). In a vote that recognizes the importance of including the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) human rights groups at the United Nations, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted consultative status on Friday to two nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that address human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The two groups, Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec (CGLQ) and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL), will be able to use their new consultative status at the UN to work directly on human rights and other issues of importance to the LGBT community by ensuring access to UN meetings, delivery of oral and written reports, and organizing events to facilitate understanding of the abuse and discrimination that LGBT people face around the world.

ECOSOC consists of 54 member states of the United Nations, drawn from the five UN regions: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the West. States from all five regions voted to overturn a negative decision by the ECOSOC's NGO Committee and to accredit the LGBT groups.

"RFSL now has the possibility, together with others, to affect and improve the situation for the world's LGBT persons," said Soren Juvas, President of RFSL. Yvan Lapointe, General Director of CGLQ, added, "We are really excited by the decision and are proud of the leadership role that Québec and Canada have played in the field of human rights. We look forward to maintaining this role as we work with other members of the international community to advance LGBT rights."

John Fisher from ARC International, which coordinated State lobbying and monitored the vote in Geneva, said, "The ECOSOC today affirmed the place of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people in the work of the United Nations. We are delighted that support for NGOs working to address human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity continues to increase. From every region in the world, States have sent a clear message that discrimination has no place in the UN system, and that sexual orientation and gender identity issues can, and must, be addressed."

Paula Ettelbrick from IGLHRC, which worked with groups in Asia and Latin America to encourage support from their governments, noted that the Swedish and Canadian groups succeeded in large measure because their own governments supported their applications. "This vote once again illustrates the importance of working locally in order to build our voice and participation internationally," said Ettelbrick.

Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, Co-Secretary General of ILGA, which had urged its members to lobby their governments on this crucial vote, affirmed, "We would like the UN NGO Committee to acknowledge the repeated message sent by ECOSOC that LGBT NGOs should have access to the UN on an equal basis to other NGOs. We also congratulate our members CGLQ and RFSL on their victories."

A number of additional applications from diverse regions are due to be reviewed by the NGO Committee, beginning January 2008. Currently, there are about 2,800 NGOs with consultative status with the UN. Three European LGBT NGOs were granted consultative status by ECOSOC in December 2006: The Danish National Association for Gay and Lesbians (LBL), The European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA-Europe), and the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD). The US-based International Wages Due Lesbians and Australian-based Coalition of Activist Lesbians have had consultative status at the UN for years.

A full list of states' voting patterns during Friday's ECOSOC session can be found here.

For further information please contact:

Yvan Lapointe, Directeur Général, Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec
+1-418-573-2438, direction-cglq@oricom.ca

CGLQ is a coalition of individuals and groups in Québec promoting and educating about human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression. www.cglq.org

Thomas Laurell, Press Secretary, RFSL, +46-736-60-3264, thomas.laurell@rfsl.se
RFSL is the national federation for the rights of LGBT in Sweden. www.rfsl.se/pitea/english.html

John Fisher, Co-Director, ARC International, +41-79-508-3968, john@arc-international.net

ARC International is a project-driven organisation, based in Canada and with an office in Geneva, Switzerland, designed to make a contribution to the development of a strategic international Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered human rights agenda. ARC works cooperatively with existing domestic and international organisations working on LGBT and related issues, and seeks to play a role in liaising and fostering positive communications and networks between existing groups on targeted goals.

Hossein Alizadeh, Communications Coordinator, IGLHRC, +1-212-430-6016, halizadeh@iglhrc.org

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or death because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists in countries around the world, monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, engaging offending governments, and educating international human rights officials. A nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in San Francisco, Buenos Aires, and Johannesburg. www.iglhrc.org

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) is a world-wide federation of national and local groups dedicated to achieving equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people everywhere. Founded in 1978, it now has more than 560 member organizations in over 90 countries in every continent and region of the world. www.ilga.org

Stephen Barris, Communication officer, +32-2-502-2471, stephenbarris@ilga.org

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