International Gay Rights Group, Opposed By GOPers, Wins UN Status

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July 19, 2010 10:07 a.m.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission today won accreditation from the United Nations despite Republican efforts to defeat the group’s application.

As we told you last week, Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) wrote a letter to the other countries who sit on the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council — countries including anti-gay strongholds like Egypt and Saudi Arabia — urging them to vote against the New York-based group’s application.

Their effort failed, and the resolution passed 23 to 13, with 13 abstaining.“Today’s decision, we think, is an affirmation that the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have a voice in the UN,” said Sara Perle, a spokeswoman for IGLHRC. “It’s a clear message from [the council] that diverse voices cannot be silenced.”

IGLHRC, which advocates against anti-gay laws and state-sanctioned violence, applied for “consultative status” in 2007, hoping to get access to the U.N. and a more formal voice in the body’s debates. The group’s application languished in the Non-Governmental Organization Committee, which has been notoriously hostile to gay rights groups, for three years.

The NGO Committee finally voted on the application this year, voting to take “no action.” The U.S. balked. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice offered a resolution to have the council vote on IGLHRC’s application directly, skipping the NGO Committee.

Smith, the Republican congressional representative to the U.N., then wrote a letter with Franks asking the other members of the council to vote against IGLHRC. The two argued that IGLHRC’s mission was a danger to the freedoms of religion and expression.

Neither Smith nor Franks have returned multiple calls for comment.

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