ILGA world conference in the U.S. ILGA world conference in the U.S. Photo by Rex Wockner
Sunday, August 07 2011 14:38

International News, August 5 - August 18, 2011

By  Rex Wockner

ILGA Achieves UN Status

Following a 17-year battle, the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council on July 25 restored the consultative status of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. ILGA had ECOSOC status from 1993 to 1994 but was stripped of it following a scandal, orchestrated by the U.S. right wing, in which a small number of ILGA’s 700 member organizations were accused of not taking a strong enough position on age of consent. The group later expelled those members and made the wording of its constitution stronger on the issue.

“ILGA has applied to regain the status ever since ... but a small group of countries sponsoring homophobia had been able to influence the votes in the ... committee examining the applications for a long time,” ILGA said in a statement.

Only 11 other LGBT organizations have ECOSOC accreditation, which allows nongovernmental organizations to attend U.N. conferences and meetings, submit written reports and oral statements, and host panels in U.N. buildings.

Although the official tally was not available at press time, LGBT activists who attended the ECOSOC session believe that at least 29 nations voted to restore ILGA’s status: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malta, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Peru, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, and Venezuela.

Thirteen nations voted against the group: Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Morocco, Namibia, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Senegal. Six nations abstained: Bahamas, Guatemala, Ivory Coast, Mauritius, Philippines, and Rwanda.

“This is a historic day for our organization, which heals a 17-year-old wound,” said ILGA Co-Secretary General Renato Sabbadini. “A special thanks goes to Belgium for its relentless efforts in building a consensus around us, together with the United States and Argentina.”

In all, around 3,000 nongovernmental organizations have U.N. consultative status.

Uganda ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill to Return

Uganda’s ‘kill the gays’ bill is to be reintroduced in Parliament, the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights said July 21. The bill—which was stymied last year via an international outcry—imposed the death penalty for a second conviction of engaging in gay sex, and required family members, medical personnel, clergy, and others to report people they suspect of being gay or face prison time. According to CCR: “A new version of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill will appear to have removed the death penalty in order to avoid international outcry. In reality, it appears that provisions of the bill will link to other laws that will trigger the death penalty.”

Ghana Gays Supposedly To Be Arrested

Homosexuals in western Ghana must be arrested under a dictate issued by Western Region Minister Paul Evans Aidoo, local media have reported. Police agencies reportedly were told to find the gays and capture them. Landlords and others were told to help sniff out the gays.

“All efforts are being made to get rid of these people in the society,” Aidoo was quoted as saying by radio station Joy FM.

Cary Alan Johnson, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said the campaign likely is aimed at frightening gay people.

“We understand that there have been no arrests specifically related to the statements, but that there is a state of fear permeating the local LGBT community— which was likely the intended result,” Johnson said. “Quiet diplomacy is under way. We at IGLHRC are not taking direct action, but supporting the approach of the local movement to handling this in-country.”

According to the latest Ghana information from the U.S. State Department: “The law makes consenting homosexual acts a misdemeanor, and strong sociocultural beliefs discriminated against and stigmatized same-gender sex. There were no registered LGBT organizations. LGBT persons faced widespread discrimination, as well as police harassment and extortion attempts. Gay men in prison often were subjected to sexual and other physical abuse.”

Lithuania To See First LGBT Film Festival

Lithuania will see its first LGBT film festival, Kitoks Kinas (Diverse Cinema), Aug. 25-31. Movies will be screened in the capital, Vilnius, and in Kaunas. “After some hurdles, the LGBT film festival moved to theaters Pasaka in Vilnius and Cinamonas in Kaunas,” said festival director Vytautas Valentinavicius. “I am so happy we have facilities to screen LGBT films; however, we are open to having some screenings in the municipal center Skalvija as well, if we will be welcomed by Vilnius municipality.”


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