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Gaining the right to speak in our own name at the United Nations: the ECOSOC campaign

in WORLD, 04/10/2006

A short history of ILGA’s efforts to have sexual orientation and gender identity come out at the United Nations

ILGA’s efforts to have sexual orientation and gender identity come out at the United Nations grew in importance in 2006 and organised around three aspects:

- ILGA held its XXIII World Conference in Geneva, home of the United Nations Human Rights Council
- Maintaining an LGBT presence at the Human Rights Council
- Gaining the right to speak in our own name at the United Nations: the ECOSOC campaign

In 2005 and 2006, ILGA initiated a campaign to have an increasing number of LGBT groups apply for ECOSOC status, in other words the right to enter the United Nations and speak in our own name. Until the recent decision in December 2006 to give this right to the Danish and German LGBT federations and the European Region of ILGA, only COAL, the Coalition of Activist Lesbians (Australia) and International Wages Due Lesbians (U.S.A.) enjoyed this status granted by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

The NGO ECOSOC committee consists of representatives from 19 countries. It makes recommendations to the full ECOSOC (54 countries) which meets several times a year, in July and December, in Geneva and New York City.

List of LGBTI organisations with ECOSOC status

2005: five groups apply for ECOSOC status

* ILGA-Europe (The European Region of ILGA)
* ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association)
* LBL (Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians - Landsforeningen for Bosser og Lesbiske)
* LSVD (Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany - Lesben und Schwulenverband in Deutschland)
* CGLQ (Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Quebec – Coalition Gaie et Lesbienne du Québec). Vote on CGLQ’s application is postponed to 2007 in spite of the presence of Yvan Lapointe, executive Director of CGLQ, who attends the session of the NGO Committee in New York City in May 2005 to answer its questions. The NGO Committee argues the application from CGLQ (Coalition Gaie et Lesbienne du Québec) needs time for translation as it was submitted in French, even though ECOSOC applications can be filed both in English and French. CGLQ’s application, therefore, has not been presented to the full ECOSOC in 2006 which will consider it in 2007.


January 2006: The ECOSOC NGO Committee summarily rejects the applications of ILGA and LBL without substantive debate.

* ECOSOC dismisses two LGBT organizations without fair hearing! In an unprecedented move, the ECOSOC dismissed the applications of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) and the Danish Association of Gays and Lesbians (LBL) for observer Status at the United Nations Monday, January 23, 2006.
*Ongoing struggle for LGBT NGOs to get the right to speak at the United Nations in their own name. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International ask countries sitting on the ECOSOC committee to give ILGA a fair treatment.
*U.S. votes with Iran, Cuba, Sudan and Zimbabwe against two gay groups at United Nations. "Apparently Iran, which President Bush has deemed part of the 'Axis of Evil,' is a suitable partner when it comes to discriminating against gay people."- Matt Foreman, executive director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
* UN: U.S. Aligned With Iran in Anti-Gay Vote: Rice Must Explain Repressive UN Ban on LGBT Rights Groups. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, a coalition of 40 organizations, led by the Human Rights Campaign, Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called for an explanation of the vote which aligned the United States with governments that have long repressed the rights of sexual minorities.
*An open letter to US Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice by ILGA Co-Secretary General Kursad Kahramanoglu
*Iranian organisations write to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: How can we believe that the US representative in ECOSOC goes against countries like the United Kingdom, France and even Chile and Colombia, votes against Human rights together with oppressive governments like Iran, Sudan and Zimbabwe and denies ILGA, an international NGO advocating human rights for GLBTs worldwide, including Iran, consultative status?

May 2006: The ECOSOC NGO Committee rejects ILGA-Europe and LSVD after limited debate, with Columbia, Cuba and the United States modifying their voting stance.

* Two LGBT associations rejected. UN NGO Committee on discriminatory trend. Germany stressed that the accusation of paedophilia was absurd against an NGO such as ILGA Europe which enjoys consultative status with the Council of Europe, receives project funding from the European Union and has spoken to the OSCE on human rights defenders.
*ILGA's campaign to make LGBT voices come out at the United Nations rises to a new level with six additional groups applying for consultative status at the UN.

July 2006: The full ECOSOC votes to affirm the rejection of ILGA for ECOSOC consultative status. However, it can not muster majorities to confirm the rejections of LBL, ILGA-Europe and LSVD by the NGO Committee.

Through procedural motions a vote to grant the status is blocked. This stalemate leads to a postponement of the three applications. This is already a major victory, as ECOSOC is not able for the first time in 12 years to close the NGO issue at its July session!

*A petition, which has been endorsed by more than 200 organisations from over 60 countries in support of a fair treatment for LGBT groups applying for ECOSOC status
* UN Credibility at Stake as ECOSOC Addresses Applications of NGOs Working on Sexual Orientation Issues 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 three NGOs addressing human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
* Nasty procedural wrangling at the ECOSOC, John Fisher reports. July 2006.

October 2006: ILGA organises a delegation of 26 activists at the UN Human Rights Council.

Four panels are organised, including one on the ECOSOC campaign thanks to the support of the Swedish Foreign Office; RFSL; the Swedish LGBT federation and RFSU, Swedish Federation for Sexual Education. A delegation of ILGA activists is invited for the second time by the GRULAC, a gathering of government representatives from the Latin American and Caribbean region. Together with Arc International, ILGA presents our struggle for recognition of LGBT rights at the UN and stresses the importance of ECOSOC recognition.

* Speeches given on this ECOSOC campaign at the panel organised by ILGA at the second session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, October 2006.

December 10 - 14 2006, the full ECOSOC, in an extension of the July session, considers the applications from LBL, ILGA-Europe and LSVD.

December 11, ECOSOC granted consultative status to ILGA-Europe, the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, to the Danish and German national lesbian and gay association, LBL and LSVD.

John Fisher (Arc International), Kurt Krickler (HosiWien, former ILGA Europe co-chair) and Adrian Coman (IGLHRC) attend the session.

Read Press release from the UN and from IGLHRC

For a complete record of votes at the UN on sexual orientation and LGBT issues, please check the following page where you'll find a spread sheet compiled by Arc International.


2007: LGBT Groups to be considered (which applied in 2006 as part of ILGA’s campaign)

*ILGA's campaign to make LGBT voices come out at the United Nations rises to a new level with six additional groups applying for consultative status at the UN.

The first meeting of the NGO Committee in 2007 is planned for January 22 till February 2. It will consider applications from the following groups:

* ABGLT (Brazilian Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Association - Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros)
* COC Nederlands (COC Netherlands)
* FELGT from Spain (Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual State Federation - Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales)
* GALZ (Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe)
* MCC (Metropolitan Community Churches)
* RFSL (Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights - Riksförbundet för sexuellt likaberättigande)

January 30 2007: NGO Committee votes not to grant status to CGLQ and to postpone RFSL to May

As a result of a vote, requested by Egypt, Guinea, Pakistan, Qatar and the Sudan, the Committee decided not to recommend the Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec for consultative status. A decision on the application of RFSL, the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights - was deferred as several delegates needed more time.

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.

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


May 17, 2007 -- New York. International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), ABGLT, the Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transexuals, represented at the UN Committee of NGOs by Toni Reis and Beto de Jesus, responded to questions from Egypt, Quatar, Pakistan, Sudan, Burundi, Guiné, and Colombia.

UN Committee on NGOs postpones decision on the status of ABGLT until January of 2008


May 18, 2007 -- New York, U.S.A. The United Nations NGO Committee votes to recommend denial of ECOSOC status to Swedish LGBT federation RFSL and deferred consideration of two other LGBT national federations to January 2008: FELGT from Spain and ABGLT from Brazil.

Discriminatory trend continues at UN as Committee on NGOs fails to recomend consultive status with ECOSOC to three national federations defending the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people.

July 23, 2007 -- Geneva. 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: Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec (CGLQ) and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL)

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

ILGA is still working with LGBT groups which intend to apply in 2007 to be considered in 2008.

Groups currently in the process of applying for ECOSOC status

* CHA, Comunidad Homosexual Argentina - Argentina
* HosiWien - Austria
* 360° - Switzerland
* Dialogai - Switzerland
* Lestime - Switzerland
* Los - Switzerland
* Pink Cross - Switzerland
* Movilh - Chile


While in Geneva to attend the UN Human Rights Council in October 2006, ILGA’s board invited Swiss ILGA members of the area, hence the high number of Swiss groups applying.

If your group wishes to apply or is applying for ECOSOC Status, please contact information@ilga.org

February 13, 2008 - New York, U.S.A. The United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations refused ECOSOC status to three lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender groups. In a tie vote, the committee recommended denial of ECOSOC consultative status to the Spanish LGBT federation, Federación Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales (FELGTB). It also deferred consideration of two other LGBT national federations: COC (Cultuur en Ontspanningscentrum) from the Netherlands and ABGLT (Associaçao Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas, Bissexuais, Travestis e Transexuais) from Brazil which was deferred for the second time. Both NGOs will be therefore reconsidered in the upcoming NGO Committee session of May.

ECOSOC refused to FELGTB and deferred for COC and ABGLT

July 21 and 22, 2008 -- New York. The ECOSOC grants consultative status to two groups that work on sexual orientation and gender identity are COC Netherlands and the State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals of Spain (FELGTB), national organizations representing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the Netherlands and Spain.

Defeat for Discrimination, Victory for Inclusion: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Groups Gain Consultative Status

August 4 2009 -- Geneva, United Nations. The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted consultative status today to the Brazilian Federation of LGBT Groups (Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros, ABGLT), the first LGBT organization from the Southern Hemisphere to receive it, a coalition of human rights organizations said today.

ABGLT, first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Organization from the Global South to Gain Consultative Status

July 17 2010 -- ILGA warmly congratulates IGLHRC for obtaining ECOSOC Status at the UN

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission gets ECOSOC status

9 December 2010 -- Sao Paulo. The 25th ILGA World Conference in Sao Paulo condemned the repeated attempts to link ILGA and LGBTI organisations with paedophilia and insisted that the United Nations recognizes ILGA's right to obtain ECOSOC status in order to engage with the United Nations system like any other legitimate organisation.

The 25th ILGA World Conference approved resolution on ECOSOC

July 25 2011, Geneva -- With 29 votes in favour, 14 against and 5 abstentions, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted today consultative status to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).

ECOSOC Council vote grants consultative status to ILGA

May 24 2013 - NGO Committee, by Historic Vote, Approves Openly Lesbian Medical Organization for Special Consultative Status. During impassioned exchanges about the national-based Australian Lesbian Medical Association, which advances both lesbian health professionals’ visibility and lesbian health in general, the representative of Bulgaria said that the organization had faced postponement for seven consecutive sessions and had answered 54 questions posed to it over the years. The Committee was “systematically deterring” its application. It was time, she stated, to “take a decision”.

NGO Committee, by Historic Vote, Approves Openly Lesbian Medical Organization for Special Consultative Status.

July 19 2013: ECOSOC Council vote grants consultative status to Hosi Wien. European Union said that the involvement of civil society and non-governmental organizations was essential for well informed debates of the United Nations in general, including the Economic and Social Council. The contribution of non-governmental organizations towards creating open and democratic societies was of great importance. The European Union welcomed the historic decision of the Committee to recommend special consultative status to two organizations promoting the rights of persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. However, despite improvements, it was regrettable that the Committee had not taken into account the full diversity of non-governmental organizations.

ECOSOC Council vote grants consultative status to Hosi Wien






 

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