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United Nations: UN Credibility at Stake as ECOSOC Addresses Applications of NGOs Working on Sexual Orientation Issues

in WORLD, 25/07/2006

GENEVA, JULY 24, 2006 - NGOs urged the Economic and Social Council today to put aside procedural disagreements and give fair consideration to the applications for consultative status of 3 NGOs addressing human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

These applications were considered by the ECOSOC last Friday. Almost two whole sessions of the Council were consumed with procedural disputes which prevented the ECOSOC from addressing the substance of the issues before it.

"These are precisely the political games that brought the UN Commission on Human Rights into disrepute," said Chris Sidoti, Director of the International Service for Human Rights. "This is about more than the applications of 3 NGOs. It is about the credibility of the ECOSOC. The ECOSOC has before it legitimate applications from NGOs doing valuable human rights work. The least these organizations are entitled to expect is fair consideration and a substantive decision on their applications on their merits."

"We are supported by our government and came into Geneva for the consideration of our application for consultative status by the ECOSOC," said Martin Christensen, of the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians, one of the NGOs under consideration. The NGO, which has a membership of 1200, was registered in 1948, just two years after the UN was founded. "On Friday, the ECOSOC voted against a motion to deny our NGO consultative status, and also voted against another motion to send the matter back to the NGO Committee. That leaves only one option: to grant the Danish Association the consultative status we are seeking." The other NGOs under consideration are the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany and ILGA-Europe.

"No reason has been given to deny the groups status other than their work on sexual orientation and gender identity issues," said John Fisher, Co-Director of the Geneva-based NGO ARC International." These issues are of legitimate concern for the UN. Numerous Special Procedures have documented violations of the human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, including arbitrary arrests, deprivation of food and water, beatings, rape and murder. It is important for public confidence in the ECOSOC and the UN as a whole that no NGO be denied consultative status solely because of the substance of their work. We recognize that different States may hold different views on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, but one thing on which we can all agree is that the UN must uphold the principle of non-discrimination. All that the applicant NGOs are seeking is the opportunity to participate in the debate."

A petition in support of accrediting these NGOs has been endorsed by more than 200 organisations from over 60 countries, coming from every region of the world.

For further information:

John Fisher, Co-Director, ARC International: +41-22-733-4705

Chris Sidoti, Director, International Service for Human Rights: +41-79-518-2060

Martin Christensen, Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians: +45-2060-5445


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