Tuesday, July 20, 2010

IGLHRC gains consultative status in the UN, Venezuela only country in America to vote 'No'

Yesterday, I was thrilled to hear that the US-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) had gained consultative status by the United Nations (Official press release here).

This came at the end of a prolonged fight to block the accreditation by leaders and representatives from some of the most homophobic nations in the world as well as fundamentalist religious institutions.

"Today's decision is an affirmation that the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have a place at the United Nations as part of a vital civil society community," said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Executive Director. "The clear message here is that these voices should not be silenced and that human rights cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity."

In the United States Republican Congressmen Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Trent Franks (R-AZ) had urged other countries to vote against accrediting IGLHRC.

Today, they'll be glad to know they were on the same side as Venezuela.

Yes, of the thirteen nations that voted against the measure, the only country in the American continent was Venezuela.Venezuelan ambassador to the United Nations Jorge Valera (pictured) has yet to explain his vote as does the government of Hugo Chavez.

An aside: Yesterday the White House released a brief statement by President Barack Obama, welcoming the news:
I welcome this important step forward for human rights, as the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission (ILGHRC) will take its rightful seat at the table of the United Nations. The UN was founded on the premise that only through mutual respect, diversity, and dialogue can the international community effectively pursue justice and equality. Today, with the more full inclusion of the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, the United Nations is closer to the ideals on which it was founded, and to values of inclusion and equality to which the United States is deeply committed.
Hm, it's not the International "Lesbian and Gay" Human Rights Commission. They switched those two words around, and also got the acronym wrong. It's not "ILGHRC" , it's "IGLHRC". Oooopsie! A good thing, though, for the president to recognize the great news.

UPDATE: Thanks to Gerónimo Desumala, who left a comment on this post, here is a link to a description of the vote at the United Nations as well as the debate that preceded and followed.

A Venezuelan delegate stated the 'no' vote was not based on the nature of the agency's work but, instead, on procedural issues...
Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, Venezuela’s delegate said her country’s Constitution forbade discrimination on grounds of economic or social status.  Venezuela had voted against the granting of consultative status to the organization for reasons of procedure, not because it had substantive objections to that organization’s work.  The examination of applications for consultative status was the responsibility of the Non-Governmental Organization Committee.

She said the Council did not have enough information to make a clear, objective opinion on the issue and it should, thus, respect the Committee’s recommendations.  Any decision adopted regarding the consultative status would establish a negative precedent, opening the door for any State to selectively bring the Council’s attention to applications for consultative status based on national interest.

3 comments:

lorenzo herrera y lozano said...

Maybe they Administration is ahead of the times and schooling IGLHRC by suggesting ILGHRC. Of course, even LG is problematic. But, it's a nice far-fetched thought to carry with me for the rest of the day. :)

Geronimo said...

Andres-

Although a summary and not an exact transcription, you can find a summary of the explanation vote made by Venezuela in this document: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2010/ecosoc6445.doc.htm

It reads as follows:
"Speaking in explanation of vote after the vote, Venezuela’s delegate said her country’s Constitution forbade discrimination on grounds of economic or social status. Venezuela had voted against the granting of consultative status to the organization for reasons of procedure, not because it had substantive objections to that organization’s work. The examination of applications for consultative status was the responsibility of the Non-Governmental Organization Committee.

She said the Council did not have enough information to make a clear, objective opinion on the issue and it should, thus, respect the Committee’s recommendations. Any decision adopted regarding the consultative status would establish a negative precedent, opening the door for any State to selectively bring the Council’s attention to applications for consultative status based on national interest."

I hope this helps.

libhom said...

Venezuela's no vote was disappointing and wrong. It also was bizarre, given the fact that Venezuela is ahead of the US on LGBT issues and human rights issues in general.