US Ambassador Samantha Power
Eleven LGBT groups have been blocked from taking part in a United Nations meeting on HIV following objections by Muslim countries.
Reuters reports that, led by Egypt, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) insisted that the NGOs not be allowed to attend the “high-level” event next month.
While no reason was given, it is believed that they were blocked because of their involvement in LGBT issues.
In a letter to General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft, the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, voiced her condemnation of the ban.
“Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/Aids pandemic,” she said.
“We are deeply concerned that at every negotiation on a new general assembly gathering, the matter of NGO participation is questioned and scrutinised
“The movement to block the participation of NGOs on spurious or hidden grounds is becoming epidemic and severely damages the credibility of the UN,” Power added.
UN officials told Reuters that the EU and Canada have also objected to the move to stop the groups from taking part.
The OIC consists of 57 nations, mostly in the Middle East and Africa, and include some of the most homophobic countries in the world, such as Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Uganda.
In some of these, homosexuality can be punished with life imprisonment and even execution.
Over the years, the organisation has consistently opposed efforts at the UN to end violence and discrimination against LGBT people.
In 2012, Pakistani Ambassador to the UN, Zamir Akram, told the UN Human Rights Council that “the issue of sexual orientation is unacceptable to the OIC.” On behalf of the organisation, he also insisted that LGBT rights are not human rights.