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National Gay & Lesbian Task Force media release

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauds U.S. vote in United Nations supporting two lesbian and gay rights groups

Votes mark sharp reversal by United States

WASHINGTON, May 22 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force applauds the United States delegation to the United Nations for its votes last week supporting the applications of two lesbian and gay rights organizations' efforts to join the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The U.S. backed the applications of Germany's Lesbian and Gay Federation and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA)-Europe. The votes mark a sharp reversal from January 2006, when The United States opposed the membership of ILGA and the Danish Association of Gays and Lesbians in ECOSOC.

"The U.S. votes prove that when people speak out for fairness and against injustice, positive change is possible," said Dave Noble, political director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Noble also praised the work of ILGA, the International Lesbian and Gay Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch and other groups advocating for freedom and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, as well as U.S. Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), who led the charge following the January 2006 vote in questioning and criticizing the United States' rejection of the lesbian and gay organizations' applications.

In January, the U.S. sided with some of the world's leading repressive anti-gay regimes, including Iran, Zimbabwe and China, and was denounced worldwide by human rights groups. The Task Force slammed the move, and signed onto a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling for the U.S. to show leadership in support of LGBT people's rights.

While last week's U.S. votes mark notable progress, the applications were ultimately rejected by a 9–7 vote. Cameroon, China, Cote D'Ivoire, Iran, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Senegal, Sudan and Zimbabwe rejected the applications. Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Peru, Romania and the United States voted in favor, while India and Turkey abstained. Cuba left the room.

Still, it was an improvement from four months ago: The U.S. switched its vote from no to yes, Colombia from abstain to yes, and Cuba from no to not present.

Said Noble: "We look forward to the time, someday soon, when a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender human rights group will be accepted into this important world body."

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