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ILGA and LBL rejected by ECOSOC

in WORLD, 06/02/2006

An open letter to US Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice

Dear Secretary of State,

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has rejected the application to reinstate the consultative status of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).

ILGA is the only global representative voice that gay people have and it’s no stranger to attacks from the more bigoted corners of the globe. ILGA has members in 90 different countries and there are no dirty tricks and repressive tactics that we haven’t seen.

ECOSOC rejected our application without even giving us a hearing. A straight (ahem) vote allowed Cameroon, China, Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Senegal, Sudan, Zimbabwe and... the United States to veto our request without even having to explain why lesbians, bisexuals, gays and transsexuals don’t deserve to be heard. Well, Dr Rice, we’d like to ask you a few questions here, now and on the record.

Firstly, why is your government happy to co-operate to limit the human rights of a huge minority with countries with such appalling human rights records?

Three of them: Iran; Pakistan; and Sudan use the death penalty on homosexuals. Four of them: Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Zimbabwe are shunned by your government in almost every other field of diplomacy.None of them are what your government would regard as truly democratic.

Secondly, what did President Bush mean on Tuesday when he said during his State of the Union speech: “Raising up democracy requires the rule of law, and protection of minorities...”?

What protection is he proposing for the hundreds of thousands of lgbt people who live in the Middle East and under other repressive regimes? Is he happy for their voice at the UN to be silent?

Thirdly, what concessions did your government demand from this list of meagre and bad regimes in order to be happy to trade off support for human rights NGOs to have a voice at the UN?

As you are aware, the U.S. has reversed its position since 2002, when it voted to support the International Lesbian and Gay Association’s request to have its status reviewed. Are your relations with those regimes so warm that you are happy to offer the silencing of the lgbt lobby as a quid pro quo for whatever you are asking of them?

Fourthly, aren’t you aware that when a world power like the USA throws its weight against minorities, as your government has done in the UN by voting against ILGA, there are more far-reaching consequences that extend beyond the internal politicking of the UN?

A move like this signals to the World that to oppress this chosen minority is just fine by you. I fear this is partly the explanation why my own country, Turkey abstained in the same vote. Caught between a european desire to support human rights and the US support for a line which comes principally from the Vatican, fundamentalist mullahs and other tin-pot dictatorships, it took a line of least resistance and ducked the issue!

ILGA will continue its mission until homophobia has been expunged from our planet. We lament that we lost a powerful ally in our fight. I ask that you shed some light on why your government decided to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with countries like Iran and Zimbabwe to oppress us. Is this the beginning of a new Axis of Evil?

Kursad Kahramanoglu
Secretary General – ILGA
Istanbul, Turkey
February 1, 2006
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