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United Nations: First Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Organization from the Global South to Gain Consultative Status

(Geneva, July 28, 2009) - The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) granted consultative status yesterday to the Brazilian Federation of LGBT Groups (Associação Brasileira de Gays, Lésbicas e Transgêneros, ABGLT), the first LGBT organization from the Southern Hemisphere to receive it, a coalition of human rights organizations said.

"This is a victory for the human rights of LGBT people," said Toni Reis, president of ABGLT, who thanked the Brazilian Government for their support, and the other countries that voted for ABGLT. He added that ABGLT will fight for the rights of LGBT people globally, including in the 80 countries where consenting same-sex relations between adults are still a crime, in seven of them the punishment being the death penalty. "We greatly appreciate the support of the Brazilian government, which was fundamental in this process," added Alexandre Böer, of Somos a member group of ABGLT. "The strong statement delivered by Uruguay on behalf of all Mercosur and Associated States also underlined that this is viewed as a fundamental human rights issue throughout the region."

Consultative status is a key means for civil society to access the UN system. It allows non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to deliver oral and written reports at UN meetings, and to organize events on UN premises. With it, LGBT NGOs are able to share information and analysis of the abuses and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity taking place around the world.

ECOSOC, consisting of 54 member states of the UN, grants consultative status to NGOs after reviewing recommendations made by its subsidiary body-the NGO Committee-which screens the applications. At its July session in Geneva today, the ECOSOC voted to overturn a negative recommendation by the NGO Committee, and granted UN consultative status to ABGLT by a vote of 25 to 12, with 13 abstentions. A list of the States' votes at the current ECOSOC session is included below.

"We congratulate ABGLT for obtaining ECOSOC accreditation. Particularly significant is that support for NGOs working to address human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity continues to increase," stated John Fisher from ARC International, who coordinated lobbying at the ECOSOC session in Geneva. "This is the largest margin of victory ever for an LGBT NGO seeking ECOSOC accreditation. Today's decision confirms that human rights concerns related to sexual orientation and gender identity fall squarely within the mandate of the United Nations, and must be addressed by all States."

"All NGOs should be given the chance to participate in the UN debate, without discrimination," said Adrian Coman from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, who supported the ABGLT representative at the NGO Committee sessions.

ABGLT Brazil joins over 3,000 other NGOs with consultative status at the UN. However, only a handful of LGBT groups have received the status. In recent years, some states have treated LGBT groups' applications with intense hostility. With the exception of COC Netherlands, ECOSOC has only granted such groups consultative status after first overturning negative recommendations from its NGO Committee. ECOSOC approved the Danish National Association for Gay and Lesbians (LBL), the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA-Europe), and the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD) in December 2006. The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Québec (CGQL) and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL) gained consultative status in July 2007. COC Netherlands and the Spanish Federation of LGBT Groups (FEGLT) were granted the status in July 2008. The US-based International Wages Due Lesbians and Australian-based Coalition of Activist Lesbians have had consultative status at the UN for more than a decade.

In 2010, the NGO Committee is due to review applications from other LGBT groups, including Lestime and LOS, both from Switzerland, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which were deferred from prior sessions.

Brazilian Mission to UN, ABGLT, ARC-International after EcoSoc vote

Activists congratulate ABGLT after ECOSOC vote.[photo credit: Yuvraj Joshi] Left to Right: Guilherme de Aguiar Patriota (Brazilian Mission to the UN), Alexandre Boer (ABGLT), Rodrigo Cardoso (Brazilian Mission to the UN), John Fisher (ARC International).

For more information please contact:

Alexandre Böer and Toni Reis (ABGLT):

+55-51-8125-7536
alexandreboer@somos.org.br

presidencia@abglt.org.br

John Fisher (ARC International, in Geneva):

+41-79-508-3968

john@arc-international.net

Adrian Coman (IGLHRC, in New York):

+1 (212) 430-6014
acoman@iglhrc.org


Results of the vote

In favour of granting UN consultative status to ABGLT (25 States):

Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela

Against granting UN consultative status to ABGLT (12 States):

Algeria, Belarus, Cameroon, China, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Sudan

Abstentions (13 States):

Barbados, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, India, Kazakhstan, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Philippines, Republic of Moldova, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia

Not present/did not vote (4 States)

Cape Verde, Morocco, Niger, Somalia


To find out more about IGLHRC's work at the UN click here .

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The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or death because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists in countries around the world, monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, engaging offending governments, and educating international human rights officials. A non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org for more information

The Mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is to secure the full enjoyment of human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression and/or HIV status.

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Reproduced with permission - "INTERNATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (IGLHRC)"

INTERNATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION (IGLHRC)
www.iglhrc.org


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