by Rex Wockner
Following a 17-year battle, the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council on July 25 restored the consultative status of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
ILGA had ECOSOC status from 1993 to 1994 but was stripped of it following a scandal, orchestrated by the U.S. right wing, in which a small number of ILGA’s 700 member organizations were accused of not taking a strong enough position on age of consent. The group later expelled those members and made the wording of its constitution stronger on the issue.
“ILGA has applied to regain the status ever since … but a small group of countries sponsoring homophobia had been able to influence the votes in the … committee examining the applications for a long time,” ILGA said in a statement.
Only 11 other LGBT organizations have ECOSOC accreditation, which allows nongovernmental organizations to attend U.N. conferences and meetings, submit written reports and oral statements, and host panels in U.N. buildings.
Although the official tally was not available at press time, LGBT activists who attended the ECOSOC session believe that at least 29 nations voted to restore ILGA’s status: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Venezuela.
Thirteen nations voted against the group: Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Senegal. Six nations abstained: Bahamas, Guatemala, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Philippines and Rwanda.
“This is a historic day for our organization, which heals a 17-year-old wound,” said ILGA Co-Secretary General Renato Sabbadini. “A special thanks goes to Belgium for its relentless efforts in building a consensus around us, together with the United States and Argentina.”
The other U.N.-accredited LGBT groups are International Wages Due Lesbians; Australia’s Coalition of Activist Lesbians; ILGA-Europe (an autonomous division of ILGA); Denmark’s Landsforeningen for Bosser og Lesbiske (National Association for Gays and Lesbians); Lesben- und Schwulenverband in Deutschland (Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany); the Swedish national LGBT group RFSL (its former initials now are its full name); Coalition Gaie et Lesbienne du Quebec (Quebec Gay and Lesbian Coalition); COC Netherlands (a national LGBT group whose former initials are now its full name); Associacao Brasileira de Gays, Lesbicas e Transgeneros (Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians and Transgenders); the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; and Spain’s Federacion Estatal de Lesbianas, Gays, Transexuales y Bisexuales (State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals).
In all, around 3,000 nongovernmental organizations have U.N. consultative status.