ILGA and the ECOSOC Status controversy

On January 23, 2006, ILGA’s application for ECOSOC Status was rejected by the NGO Committee, as it had been on two previous occasions. No grounds were offered for this rejection other than an impugned link between ILGA and paedophilia.

This text explains in detail the position of ILGA regarding paedophilia.
ILGA re-obtained Consultative Status with the ECOSOC Council on July 2011,
with the direct vote at the Council, thus breaking the deadlock at the NGO committee. 

ILGA does not advocate – and never has advocated – paedophilia in any way or form.
 ILGA has issued statements condemning all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation (regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the perpetrator or the victim). ILGA has issued statements calling for the strengthening of the rights of children and young people, in support of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and condemning all forms of abuse (including sexual abuse), coercion, and exploitation of children and young people. The ILGA conference (the highest decision making authority) has passed a resolution categorically rejecting any attempt to promote or legalize paedophilia.

In 1990, the ILGA World Conference in Stockholm adopted a resolution on the protection of children that stated categorically that “Every child has the right to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse, including prostitution and involvement in pornography”. This wording of the resolution is directly in line with article 34 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In 1994, ILGA expelled NAMBLA and two other paedophile groups at its World Conference in New York. These groups had joined ILGA at an earlier stage of ILGA’s development, at a time when ILGA did not have in place administrative procedures to scrutinize the constitutions and policies of groups seeking membership. At no time, however, did ILGA support or endorse their positions, and these groups were expelled precisely because their aims were incompatible with those of ILGA.

A 4-step screening process was introduced in 1996 to ensure that in future no such group would be admitted to the membership:

1. The ILGA constitution requires organisations applying for membership to provide details of their organisation, including their aims, and to confirm in writing that they support the aims and objectives of ILGA. All existing member organisations have already explicitly confirmed their compliance with all of ILGA’s aims and objectives, and applications of new members will not even be considered without such a confirmation in writing;
2. The group’s application will not be accepted unless it is endorsed by two regional Board representatives from the same region as the applicant;
3. The whole Board of ILGA then reviews the application to ensure the organisation’s goals are compatible with those of ILGA, including ILGA’s opposition to paedophilia and the sexual abuse of children;
4. Finally, any recommendation by the Board is subject to a vote of the full membership at the following World Conference.

In addition, should we receive information at any time that a member group is violating ILGA’s constitution by advocating or promoting paedophilia then, in accordance with the Constitution, the Board of ILGA would immediately suspend that group’s membership pending a full investigation and review. Any group found to be violating the Constitution in this way would face expulsion from membership.

In 1995 at the ILGA World Conference in Rio de Janeiro, the Constitution of ILGA was altered to make express the commitment of the organisation to international human rights standards,including those found in the core human rights treaties (including the Convention on the Rights of the Child):

”C. Aims and Objectives:
(ii) To promote the universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the elimination of all forms of discrimination and also including the realisation of the specific provisions of the following international human rights instruments:
– The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
– The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;
– The International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination;
– The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women;
– The Convention on the Rights of the Child
– The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”

As recognized in its Constitution, ILGA fully supports all provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which contains numerous protections for children, including the right to be protected “from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse” and the need to prevent ”the inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity”.

In 1997, a new constitution was enacted at ILGA’s World Conference in Cologne, Germany, which retained that commitment and added a preamble on the protection of youth (both of which have been retained in all subsequent revisions).

  1. Preamble:
    “Concerned with the vulnerability of youth in a world that continues to practice so many forms of discrimination, the need for their protection from abuse and the goal of ensuring that young people experience both freedom and support as they develop their own sexualities and identities;”

These provisions show that ILGA strongly supports the UN human rights conventions and covenants and is especially concerned with the protection of youth that is mandated by the Convention of the Rights of the Child.

In short, ILGA does not support paedophilia, and never has. This is unequivocally demonstrated through ILGA’s policy statements, constitutional provisions and endorsement of the relevant international instruments. Comprehensive membership safeguards are in place to ensure that no group violating these principles is admitted to the membership.

No reason has been given to deny ILGA ECOSOC status other than an unfounded allegation from more than a decade ago. No NGO could do more than ILGA has to denounce the abuse of children, endorse the relevant international provisions and scrutinize its membership for compliance with these commitments.