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by Rex Wockner
The United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations is again opposing and delaying gay groups’ requests for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
On Feb. 11, the committee recommended denial of, or deferred action on, the applications of Spain’s State Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals (FELGTB); the Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Transvestites and Transsexuals (ABGLT); and the Dutch national gay organization COC (its former initials are now its full name).
“It was a shocking first experience at the U.N.,” said Joyce Hamilton of COC, whose application, along with that of ABGLT, was deferred. “This blatant structural discrimination against LGBT organizations shows the need for a continued battle.”
FELGTB’s application was recommended for rejection in a tie vote. Support for the application came from Colombia, Dominica, Israel, Peru, Romania, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Opposition came from Burundi, China, Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia and Sudan. Four nations abstained — Angola, Guinea, India and Turkey — and Cuba missed the vote.
“Even getting this negative recommendation was difficult in the NGO committee today,” said FELGTB’s Toni Poveda. “Representatives of Egypt, Pakistan and Qatar constantly came up with additional questions for us and claimed that proceeding to a vote on whether or not to grant consultative status to the group — before all questions are answered — would constitute preferential treatment.”
The negative recommendation actually puts FELGTB in a better position than COC and ABGLT.
“There is clearly a group of countries in this committee which insists on blocking the applications of LGBT groups from one session to another, preventing them to reach the full ECOSOC, where [this committee’s] position does not have a majority,” said FELGTB’s Sylvia Jaen. “We were successful in overcoming this situation but unfortunately our Dutch and Brazilian friends were not.”
Groups that have succeeded in achieving ECOSOC consultative status in recent years include the Swedish national gay group RFSL (its former initials are now its full name), Canada’s Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Quebec, the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians, the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, International Wages Due Lesbians, Australia’s Coalition of Activist Lesbians, and the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association.
The status allows nongovernmental organizations — some 2,900 in all — to access U.N. meetings, deliver oral and written reports, contact country representatives and organize events.