(this article was originally published on 25 July 2011)
Geneva, 25 July 2011
With 29 votes in favour (India, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary), 14 against (Iraq, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Ghan Zambia), 5 abstentions (Guatemala, Philipines, Rwanda, Bahamas, Ivory Coast) and 6 absent/did not vote ( Comoros, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Malawi, Mauritius, Saint Kitts and Nevis) the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted today consultative status to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). ECOSOC consultative status allows NGOs to attend UN conferences and meetings, submit written statements and reports, make oral interventions, and host panels in UN buildings, thus representing a fundamental tool for an NGO like ILGA – with more than 750 member organisations in all continents – to do work on LGBTI human rights within the UN system.
ILGA was the first international LGBTI organisation to get ECOSOC consultative status in 1993, but lost it the following year due to the presence of groups advocating the abolition of laws of consent. ILGA has applied to regain the status ever since, following the expulsion of the above mentioned groups from its membership and after amending its constitution to state clearly its commitment against child abuse, but a small group of countries sponsoring homophobia had been able to influence the votes in the UN NGO Committee examining the applications for a long time. In the meantime, many ILGA members – like LBL Denmark, COC The Netherlands, FELGT Spain, LSVD Germany, ABGLT Brazil, IGLHRC US, and Ilga-Europe – were able to obtain the status by having the negative recommendation of the NGO Committee overturned in the ECOSOC Council, as it has happened in the case of ILGA today.
"This is a historic day for our organisation, which heals a 17-year-old wound – said co-Secretary General Renato Sabbadini, in Geneva for the occasion – and we want to thank all, really all UN Members who voted in our favour, they all deserve indeed to be named fully: India, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary.
A special thanks goes to Belgium, for its relentless efforts in building a consensus around us, together with the United States and Argentina. We would like to thank also our member organisations which successfully lobbied their Governments on this occasion and all our allies for their support, in particular Arc-International in Geneva."
"Today we are celebrating – said co-Secretary General Gloria Careaga from Mexico City – but we are aware that there is a lot of work to do for us in the coming months. We are looking forward to working together with all our members, particularly those which also have the status, and our allies to advance LGBTI human rights in the UN bodies in the coming years, taking advantage of the very positive developments opened by the resolution presented by South Africa in the UN Human Rights Council last June."
Pedro Paradiso Sottile, Regional Secretary for ILGA LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean), also in Geneva for the occasion, said: "Granting ILGA consultative status is an act of justice and a reason for pride for the international community working for a world where human rights are truly respected without any discrimination. Our voices and our struggle for equality and freedom must reach every corner of the world, for differences in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to be respected and protected by all States. We believe that the ECOSOC status will help all our activists around the world in this endeavour.”
Our picture: Patricia Curzi, UN-ILGA liaison officer, Renato Sabbadini, Co-Secretary general of ILGA and Pedro Paradiso Sottile, Regional Secretary for ILGA-LAC at the United Nations in Geneva.