PASSING by a narrow margin of one vote, LGBTI organisation ARC International has been recommended for general consultative status with the United Nations, marking a significant milestone for recognition of LGBTI issues in the UN.

The United Nations Committee on NGOs met last week to vote on ARC International’s application, with the recommendation narrowly approved in a 7–6 vote.

Belgium, Bulgaria, Israel, Peru, Turkey, the US and Venezuela all voted in favour, while India abstained. Voting against were China, Morocco, Mozambique, Russia, Senegal and Sudan.

The vote faced some controversy when Pakistan, absent when their name was called for a vote, re-entered before the result was confirmed. Despite Sudan’s calls for the vote to be rejected outright, it was ruled a delegation must be in its seat and ready to vote when its name is called.

ARC International co-director John Fisher was grateful for the support of the countries who voted in favour of the recommendation.

“We appreciated the strong support of those states which voted in favour. Belgium did a great job of presenting our application and steering it through the committee, Canada took the floor as an observer to deliver a statement of support, and the Turkish Chair was masterful in handling the many procedural objections,” he said.

The decision will be finalised upon approval by the UN Economic and Social Affairs Council in July, where positive recommendations from the NGO committee are usually approved without incident.

While a number of LGBTI-related organisations have received “special” consultative status with the UN in the past, general status is reserved for larger, well-established NGOs representing a broad range of issues across multiple countries.

Established in 2003, ARC International already has a significant presence within the UN. It played a key role in developing the Yogyakarta Principles in 2006, on applying human rights law to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Last year the Australian Lesbian Medical Association received special consultative status from the UN, allowing it to make significant contributions to UN bodies and processes.

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