joan y. psmith

my other existence

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IGLHRC gains consultative status to the UN
First published at eurOut.

IGLHRC, the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, is the 10th* LGBT organisation to gain consultative status to the UN.

photo by Kjetil Ree

"Today's decision is an affirmation that the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have a place at the United Nations as part of a vital civil society community. The clear message here is that these voices should not be silenced and that human rights cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity."
Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Executive Director.
IGLHRC was founded in 1990 by US activist Julie Dorf. It first applied to gain consultative status to the UN in 2007. Three years of dutifully responding to questions, both in writing and by appearing before the NGO Committee, followed. But meeting all the criteria necessary didn't automatically lead to success. Let's look at the process in a little bit more detail.

ECOSOC, the Economic and Social Council, serves as the UN's central forum for discussing international economic and social issues(wikipedia). ECOSOC itself doesn't usually approve or decline an NGO's application to gain consultative status to the UN, the NGO Committee has the authority to do just that on behalf ot ECOSOC.

In May 2010 the US proposed that the Committee should grant IGLHRC consultative status. But this lead to Egypt to use a so called "no-action" motion, which was adopted by the Committee and which effectively put the decision on hold.

Many member countries, chief among them the UK, US, Columbia and Romania, viewed this as "a simple act of discrimination". IGLHRC itself held a successful online petition to get ECOSOC members to overturn the NGO Committee's decision. This petition was signed by over 200 NGOs worldwide.

In an ECOSOC meeting held on July 19, 2010 Saudi Arabia called for vote on the issue, insisting that the no-action motion should have stood and that deviating from protocol would weaken the NGO Committee's authority.

The vote to adopt the proposal to grant IGLHRC consultative status to the UN was subsequently carried by 23 in favour, 13 against and 13 abstentions and IGLHRC was granted consultative status. (I'm surprised that Saudi Arabia didn't see this coming and called for vote. But it could be that I'm missing some detail in the process.)
Venezuela explained it had voted 'no' on purely procedural grounds and had no substantive objections about the nature of IGLHRC or its 'praiseworthy work'.

In [Peru's] view, IGLHRC had met the criteria and had answered all questions posed by the Committee, so there were no outstanding matters and therefore no basis for the Committee to defer the application. Hence Peru's 'yes' vote.
International Service for Human Rights
I'm with Peru on this one. What are rules and criteria for it they can be so easily disregarded?

Further reading:
A detailed summery of the meeting can be found at the International Service for Human Rights' website.

*) I assume this to mean "the 10th ever" and not that there are 10 lgbt organisations worldwide now holding this status. They apparently didn't think that a list of over 15.000 organisations needed to be properly tagged, so it's possible I've missed something. I did a quick search for the words "gay" and "lesbian" in the UN's NGO database. This yielded lists of 20 and 17 organisations respectively, only 8 of which showed the note "Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)":
  1. Associacao Brasileira de Gays, Lesbicas e Transgeneros
  2. Coalition of Activist Lesbians - Australia
  3. Danish Association for Gays and Lesbians
  4. European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Federation
  5. International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
  6. International Wages Due Lesbians
  7. Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany
  8. Swedish Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights - RFSL

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