Gay rights organisations, led by the Joint Working Group (JWG), have called on the South African government to vote for the recognition of two gay NGOs at the UN, after it previously failed to do so.
The South African delegation to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is expected to vote today, Friday, 20 July, on whether to recognise two international NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to represent lesbian and gay interests on this international forum.
South Africa will have an opportunity to cast a significant vote that will impact on international human rights, specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, says JWG.
There was significant disappointment and embarrassment when in July 2006 South Africa voted against these applications, and then abstained when the issue was again up for vote in December of the same year. Other counties that previously voted against the applications include Indonesia and Haiti.
South Africa’s refusal to vote for the NGOs’ recognition “would contradict the core values of the South African constitution. As such, we urge South Africa to vote in favour of the applicants. This would signal our continued and consistent support for principles of fairness and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity,” said JWG.
The two organisations under consideration are The Coalition gaie et lesbainne du Quebec and The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights. These NGOs are said to address important human rights issues.
“South Africa has led the way in its legislative reform in support of the rights of LGBT people. Moreover our constitutional mandate requires us, as a country, to take a position against all forms of discrimination including that on the basis of sexual orientation and gender.
“We urge the Government to act as a beacon for human rights to other countries who continue to persecute, imprison, torture and execute lesbian and gay people purely on the basis of their sexual orientation,” said JWG.