The important of equal access and participation
regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity
On Monday 25 July 2011, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will vote on whether to grant UN consultative status to ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. As a global federation of LGBTI organisations working on sexual orientation and gender identity issues, it is particularly important that ILGA no longer be denied a voice at the UN.
The NGO: a history of credible work
The applicant is a reliable, credible NGO of long standing, engaged in international work, and able to address significant human rights concerns of relevance to the UN in an area that is often overlooked. ILGA is fully supported by the government of Belgium, where it is based, and has met all relevant criteria in ECOSOC resolution 1996/31, which explicitly affirms the need to take into account the full diversity of non-governmental organizations.
Relevance of NGO’s work to the UN
The work of ILGA is directly relevant to the UN. Numerous UN Special Procedures and treaty bodies have highlighted violations of the human rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, including arbitrary arrests, deprivation of food and water, beatings, rape and murder. The OHCHR, other UN agencies, and the UN Secretary General have consistently expressed concern at human rights violations on these grounds. UNAIDS has emphasised the importance of working with lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people on HIV prevention. The recent resolution on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, adopted by the UN Human Rights Council last month, makes clear that these are current issues relevant to the UN agenda. It will be particularly appropriate to ensure that the voices of NGOs working on these issues are heard during the panel discussion mandated by the Human Rights Council to take place next March.
Whatever individual States’ positions on questions of sexual orientation and gender identity may be, it is clear that these issues are regularly being discussed in UN fora and it is important that UN discussions be informed by NGOs representing these constituencies.
Maintaining the integrity and credibility of the process
The NGO Committee has now rejected more than 10 applications by NGOs working on sexual orientation and gender identity issues. In each of 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, the ECOSOC has had to overturn these recommendations of the NGO Committee in order to uphold the principle of non-discrimination underpinning the UN Charter. The issues raised by the current application are indistinguishable from those before the ECOSOC in each of the past five years, and the NGO under consideration should similarly be granted status in the interests of maintaining a fair, consistent and credible process. All that the applicant NGO is seeking is the opportunity to participate in the debate.
Many of the LGBT NGOs granted ECOSOC status in recent years are members of ILGA. It would be anomalous if member groups of ILGA working on sexual orientation and gender identity issues could be granted ECOSOC accreditation, but not ILGA itself.
The applicant NGO plays a vital role in addressing serious human rights violations, relevant to the work of the UN. Regardless of States’ views on the issues it addresses, it is entitled to the same opportunity as all other NGOs to present its views and participate in the work of the UN. We urge the ECOSOC to maintain the credibility of the process by voting against the draft recommendations of the NGO Committee and by granting ILGA consultative status.