United Nations Grants International LGBT Rights Organization Official Status

Despite significant opposition, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) voted on Monday to pass a resolution backed by the Obama administration that grants the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) consultative status.

This accreditation comes in spite of procedural roadblocks and rallying by certain Republican congressman who urged members of the ECOSOC to vote against the move. According to TPM, Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) took it upon themselves to write to several members of the UN’s Economic and Social Council, such as representatives from Egypt and Saudi Arabia, urging them to vote against the New York-based group’s application. 

Yet, after a lengthy three year application process, these efforts were in vain as the resolution passed with 23 votes in favor, 13 against, 13 abstentions and 5 absence. The vote occurred after overcoming a controversial motion of no-action that had been voted on earlier in the year.

From the IGLHRC Press Release on the U.N. accreditation:

The vote also signals a recognition of the important role of a diverse and active civil society at the UN. In support of progress on IGLHRC’s application, a group of over 200 NGOs from 59 countries endorsed a letter to all UN Member States, demanding fair and non-discriminatory treatment and supporting IGLHRC’s goal of amplifying LGBT voices in the international arena.

“As human rights defenders and LGBT people living in countries where homophobic discrimination is a daily reality, we celebrate the accreditation of IGLHRC at the UN,” said Frank Mugisha, Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), one of 13 NGOs from Uganda to publicly call for IGLHRC to be accredited. “IGLHRC’s access to the UN means that we too will have greater access to international human-rights mechanisms that can prove invaluable to LGBT people’s lives.”

The government of the United States stood strongly behind IGLHRC’s application, calling for a vote in both the NGO Committee and ECOSOC. Ambassador Susan Rice, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, publicly supported IGLHRC’s application. Additionally, 14 members of the US House of Representatives and 4 Senators sent letters of support for IGLHRC’s application to all UN Member States. Among them were Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Congressman Howard Berman, Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

This victory will enable the IGLHRC to be present at meetings of the UN’s Economic and Social Council, will allow them to submit official statements on policies and procedural matters and will give them a greater ability to collaborate with the UN and with its comprising government representatives.

As the draft resolution circulated on Friday, Jessica Stern of the IGLHRC highlighted the importance of allowing the commission a more prominent voice when she told the Associated Press:

“Given that more than 70 countries around the world still have sodomy laws in effect and that homophobia is rampant around the world, the opportunity to be recognized by the international community and the human rights standards that the U.N. represents is invaluable to our work,” Stern said.

You can see which countries voted for and against the IGLHRC’s accreditation by going here.

Keep up with the latest at the IGLHRC:

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to ausiegall.


roberto c.
robert m8 years ago

I'm so glad to hear this let's stand up for equality EVERYONE!!!!

Julie F.
Julie F8 years ago

thank you. This is informative.

anne C.
anne C8 years ago

One more comment...the United Nations is a toothless tiger as far as Human Rights go, because it is monopolized by a majority of countries with atrocious Human Rights records, like the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference. about 57 Islamic countries) who uphold Sharia Law. Then we have China, Russia, who always back their traditional allies, the OIC at the United Nations...so don't expect to acheive much in the way of Human Rights in the International arena...but anyway, good Luck :-)

anne C.
anne C8 years ago

I am totally disgusted that Republicans opposing this legislation should stoop so low as to seek the co-operation of repressive Islamic regimes such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who believe in Sharia Law and uphold it to the detriment of Human Rights for its people.. part of Sharia is the KILLING of homosexuals, the stoning of adulterers, in matters which are a persons own private business... I don't like Obamas Administration either as he supports and praises Islam , knowing full well that its purpose is to install Sharia wherever it becomes dominant..Keep Sharia OUT of our countries!!

Jane H.
Jane H8 years ago

As the proud mother of a gay man I thank everyone for such great comments, and am so glad this day came.

Carmen M.
Carmen M8 years ago

Good day for equality.

Philippa P.
Philippa P8 years ago

Everyone deserves equal treatment. We, as a society, are far too concerned with what goes on in the privacy of everyone's bedroom. Stay out of the bedroom - it's none of our business.

Mary Latela
Mary Latela8 years ago


Kris J.
Kristina J8 years ago

Very good news. But it is disheartening (not surprising) to see that so many of our elected officials have the same beliefs as those in Uganda and Iran. With all the problems facing the country right now, I have a hard time believing that Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) have nothing more pressing on their agenda than spreading hatred and bigotry to other countries. Imagine how productive our government could be if they actually spent their time trying to solve real problems, rather than being puppets for religious extremism, as so many in the GOP seem to dedicate their careers to.

Monica A.
Tara Aiello8 years ago

Great news. Everyone deserves equality, rights, respect, dignity.