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Muslim nations block LGBTQ groups from UN AIDS conference

“If you’re serious about getting to zero (AIDS cases), then it’s vital to include all communities,” Britain’s deputy U.N. ambassador Peter Wilson said. “It’s wrong to block access to the U.N. for transgender organizations and gay organizations that have every right to participate in this important discussion.”

Canada’s Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative Michael Grant said his country also sent a letter expressing concern that members could remove civil society groups from a conference without providing any justification.

“It’s quite concerning, especially on an issue like HIV/AIDS,” Grant said. Australia’s U.N. ambassador also wrote a letter of protest.

When Lykketoft negotiated arrangements late last year for the AIDS conference, to be held at U.N. headquarters on June 8-9, some members insisted on being able to object to an NGO’s participation without any public explanation.

Over 400 NGOs wanted to participate in the meeting and Lykketoft’s office said there were objections to 39, which the assembly president narrowed down to 22. The 11 others were not LGBT-related.

On Wednesday, Lykketoft responded to the protests in letters saying that he had done everything in his power to ensure the broadest participation but he was limited by his mandate which did not allow him to provide the names of the objectors.

While Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has long been out front on issues involving lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, many of the 193 U.N. member states have been less supportive.

Earlier this week, the world body allowed a gay rights group to host a gala at U.N. headquarters for the first time and last August the Security Council held its first meeting spotlighting violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

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