The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), meeting in Geneva on Monday, voted to grant UN accreditation to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) — one of the oldest international organizations fighting for LGBT rights.
ILGA was the first international LGBTI organization to get ECOSOC consultative status in 1993, but lost it the following year due to the presence of groups advocating the abolition of laws of consent.
ILGA has applied to regain the status ever since, following the expulsion of the above mentioned groups from its membership and after amending its constitution to state clearly its commitment against child abuse, but a small group of countries sponsoring homophobia had been able to influence the votes in the UN NGO (Non-governmental Organizations) Committee examining the applications for a long time.
In the meantime, many ILGA members — like LBL Denmark, COC The Netherlands, FELGT Spain, LSVD Germany, ABGLT Brazil, IGLHRC US, and Ilga-Europe — were able to obtain the status by having the negative recommendation of the NGO Committee overturned in the ECOSOC Council, as it has happened in the case of ILGA today.
The Council voted 30-16 to grant the group consultative status.
“This is a historic day for our organization, which heals a 17-year-old wound,” said ILGA co-Secretary General Renato Sabbadini, in Geneva for the occasion. “And we want to thank all, really all UN Members who voted in our favor, they all deserve indeed to be named fully: India, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Venezuela, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary.
“A special thanks goes to Belgium, for its relentless efforts in building a consensus around us, together with the United States and Argentina. We would like to thank also our member organizations which successfully lobbied their Governments on this occasion and all our allies for their support, in particular Arc-International in Geneva.”
ECOSOC consultative status allows NGOs to attend UN conferences and meetings, submit written statements and reports, make oral interventions, and host panels in UN buildings, thus representing a fundamental tool for an NGO like ILGA – with more than 750 member organisations in all continents – to do work on LGBTI human rights within the UN system.
“Granting ILGA consultative status is an act of justice and a reason for pride for the international community working for a world where human rights are truly respected without any discrimination,” said Pedro Paradiso Sottile, Regional Secretary for ILGA LAC (Latin America and the Caribbean).
“Our voices and our struggle for equality and freedom must reach every corner of the world, for differences in sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to be respected and protected by all States. We believe that the ECOSOC status will help all our activists around the world in this endeavor,” said Sottile.