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Urgent Interventions

The ECOSOC grants consultative status to three LGBT NGOs

Geneva-Paris, December 12, 2006. The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), in the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, welcome the decision that was made yesterday, by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), to finally approve the application for consultative status of several NGOs addressing human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender, after a long-run battle.

On December 11, 2006, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations approved the application for consultative status of the European section of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) as well as of the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians (Landsforeningen for Bøsser og Lesbiske - LBL) and the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland - LSVD)[1].

In introducing each of the three decisions, the representative of Germany stressed that the organisations in question fully met the criteria set, by the Council, for consultative status. They had fully answered the questions put to them by the Committee on NGOs, yet no valid reasons for their rejection had been offered. The representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union, said that in establishing consultative relations with NGOs, the United Nations must try to ensure diversity in the representation of those groups.

The Observatory welcomes these three decisions by ECOSOC as it is the first time that LGTB organisations receive consultative status. Through granting the consultative status to these three NGOs, the UN shows strong recognition for LGTB organisations, whose members are often subjected to serious acts of repression. Indeed LGTB defenders are often subjected to various forms of reprisals because of their work in favour of homosexuals’ and transexuals’ rights (assassinations, threats, arrests, ill-treatment, etc.) and they often face obstacles to their freedoms of association and peaceful assembly in many parts of the world.

The Observatory welcomes all the more these three decisions by ECOSOC that the question of NGO access and participation are of particular concern during this time of UN transition and reform.

Background information:

On January 23, 2006, the ECOSOC Committee on NGOs had rejected the applications for consultative status of ILGA and the LBL, without providing the organisations with reasons for the refusal (See Observatory Open Letter to the ECOSOC President, dated May 26, 2006). Moreover, on May 16 and 17, 2006, the NGO Committee had also dismissed the application for consultative status of two other organisations advancing human rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, namely LSVD and ILGA-Europe.

On May 12, 2006, the Committee left pending the application of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Quebec (Coalition Gaie et Lesbienne du Québec). On May 18, 2006, a final deferral concerned the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Quebec, and was a result of the NGO’s having provided answers only in French.

As no ground was given for the rejection of the first four applications, the Observatory was fearing that these rejections, as well as the deferral of the application of the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Quebec, might have been motivated by the work of those NGOs in favour of homosexual rights.

During the September 2006 session of the UN Human Rights Council, Ms. Hina Jilani, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, had been strongly criticised by the African Group for having sent a communication to ECOSOC members regarding their refusal to grant consultative status to these three NGOs working on human rights for LGBT persons.

The Observatory recalls that the UN General Assembly stressed in the preamble of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted on December, 9, 1998, “that all members of the international community shall fulfil, jointly and separately, their solemn obligation to promote and encourage respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction of any kind, including distinctions based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”, reaffirmed “the particular importance of achieving international cooperation to fulfil this obligation according to the Charter”, and reiterated “that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated and should be promoted and implemented in a fair and equitable manner […]”.

For more information, please contact:
OMCT: 00 41 22 809 49 39
FIDH: 00 33 1 43 55 25 18

[1] The decision granting consultative status to LBL was adopted by a recorded, roll-call vote of 23 in favour to 16 against, with 11 abstentions; the decision granting the ILGA - Europe consultative status was adopted by a recorded, roll-call vote of 23 in favour to 17 against, with 10 abstentions; the decision granting consultative status to LSVD was adopted by a recorded, roll-call vote of 24 in favour to 16 against, with 10 abstentions.

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