Gay rights group gets UN recognition despite NJ GOP Rep. Chris Smith
After three years seeking consultative status at the United Nations, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission got their wish today when the U.S. led a resolution to force a vote before the full Economic and Social Council. The final tally was 23 yes, 13 no and 13 abstentions, with 5 absences.
This is particularly notable for New Jerseyans because, as I previously reported when I first broke the news, my own representative in Congress, Chris Smith (R-NJ), sent a letter to anti-gay countries like Egypt asking them to block IGLHRC’s application. His reasoning was flawed and his writing misleading, and certainly not representative of the constituents I know, and I’m glad he proved unable to block a worthy LGBT rights organization from getting the recognition it deserves.
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 to all UN Member States for IGLHRC’s application. 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.
Check out their site for the rest of the press release, including the list of votes.
Even President Obama made a statement on the victory (though he understandably transposed the words “gay” and “lesbian”). Via Global Equality Today:
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.
Congratulations, IGLHRC! I’m glad your hard work has won the recognition it deserves!