The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) [official website] on Monday voted 23-13 to accredit the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) [advocacy website] as a consultative non-governmental organization (NGO). IGLHRC, an human rights organization for those discriminated against based on sexual orientation and gender identity, has been working towards accreditation since 2007. According to the organization they are only the tenth [press release] gay-rights group among 3,200 accredited NGOs. With consultative status, the IGLHRC will be able to collaborate with UN agencies and member governments and attend UN meetings. The vote comes on the heels of a significant lobbying effort by the Obama administration in favor of accreditation. Additionally, the accreditation was supported by 14 members of Congress and four Senators [letter texts, PDF], who sent letters of support on the group's behalf. Reacting to the vote, US UN representative Ambassador Susan Rice [official website] called it a "decisive victory" [press release] for the US and its partners, continuing:
[IGLHRC] does invaluable work around the globe to protect basic human rights, combat discrimination, and fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS. Today's vote reaffirmed the Economic and Social Council's commitment to include a diverse range of voices from civil society in the work of the UN. Most important, the vote was a significant achievement for all those who work to see the United Nations embody its founding principles and advance the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.Among the "no" votes were China, Egypt, Russia and Pakistan, citing procedural reasons [AP report] for doing so.
In March 2009, US President Barack Obama [official profile] endorsed a UN declaration [JURIST report] calling for the decriminalization of homosexuality, reversing the decision of his predecessor. In signing UN General Assembly Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity [text, PDF], the US joined 66 other nations in supporting the document that divided the UN General Assembly [official website]. Nearly 60 nations signed an opposing statement, among them were China, Russia, members of the Islamic Conference and the Vatican.