PRESS RELEASE — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

GENEVA, June 8, 2016 — UN Watch, a Geneva-based non-governmental human rights organization, today called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft to “name and shame” the countries responsible for excluding of 22 gay and transgender rights groups from the UNGA’sHigh Level Meeting on Ending Aids, which opens today with heads of state, cabinet ministers, corporate executives, and people living with HIV.

The NGOs were excluded from the UN conference due to a letter reportedly sent by Egypt on behalf of 51 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, backed by Russia, Cameroon and Tanzania. The UN refuses to release the text, but it was seen by AP and others. Several Arab and African countries that criminalize homosexuality act in concert at the UN to block recognition of gay rights.

“By barring activists from this conference because of their sexual orientation, the UN is committing a gross violation of the equality and anti-discrimination guarantees of its own Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

“The discrimination is particularly absurd and pernicious in the context of this HIV summit, because it silences the voices of those who suffer most from the problem the summit is supposed to address, with transgender people 49 times more likely than others to be infected by HIV.” 

UN Watch noted that Mr. Ban last week said he was “opposed to the exclusion of LGBT organizations” from the conference, noting that “NGOs are close to communities affected by the epidemic and they must be part of the response.

“This is welcome but insufficient,” said Neuer. “The only way to stop non-democracies from the escalating and widespread phenomenon of NGOs being barred from normal UN participation is for the head of the organization to call out serial offenders and hold them to account. Unless the enemies of civil society are named and shamed, they will continue to block human rights activists—especially gay rights defenders—with impunity.”

Neuer noted that this is not an isolated incident. When Mr. Ban recognized gay marriage for UN staffers in 2014, a coalition of 44 states including Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, Egypt, Pakistan and Syria tried, but failed, to block the move

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