Shocking Exclusion by United Nations of LGBT Groups at High Level AIDS Meeting

Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Sudan, Egypt and Uganda blocking full and fair participation

Screen Shot 2016-05-22 at 12.22.10 PMThe United Nations is scheduled to host a global meeting to stop the AIDS epidemic, yet several countries want to exclude groups that represent LGBTI people or drug users.

From 8 to 10 June 2016, world leaders, government representatives, HIV program implementers and civil society organizations from across the world will gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, United States of America, to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

However, a number of countries that belong to the 193-member General Assembly have managed to block the participation of nearly two dozen organizations, from countries as diverse as Cameroon, Jamaica and Russia. No reasons have been offered for the exclusion of these groups and apparently none are required. The General Assembly operates by consensus, which means member countries can object to the participation of any nongovernmental organizations that are not accredited by the United Nations.

Reuters in April reported the following:

Muslim states block gay groups from U.N. AIDS meeting; U.S. protests:

A group of 51 Muslim states has blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from attending a high-level meeting at the United Nations next month on ending AIDS, sparking a protest by the United States, Canada and the European Union.

Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member General Assembly on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to object to the participation of the 11 groups. It did not give a reason in the letter, which Reuters saw.

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, wrote to General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft and said the groups appeared to have been blocked for involvement in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy.

“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,” Power wrote.

U.N. officials said the European Union and Canada also wrote to Lykketoft to protest the objections by the OIC group, whose members include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Sudan and Uganda.

The issues of LGBT rights and participation in events at the United Nations have long been contentious. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has advocated for LGBT equality but faced opposition from African, Arab and Muslim states as well as Russia and China.

The Meeting:


In accordance with resolution A/Res/70/228, the UN General Assembly will convene a high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS (HLM) from 8-10 June 2016 at UN Headquarters in New York.

The HLM will undertake a comprehensive review of the progress achieved in realizing the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS and the 2006 and 2011 Political Declarations on HIV/AIDS. It will adopt a concise and action-oriented declaration as its outcome, to be agreed upon by Member States, to guide and monitor the HIV/AIDS response beyond 2015, towards achieving the commitment of ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

The high-level meeting will comprise plenary meetings and up to five thematic panel discussions, which will include opportunities for civil society participation. The opening plenary meeting will feature statements by the President of the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary-General, the Executive Director of the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), a person openly living with HIV and an eminent person actively engaged in the response to HIV/AIDS.

The 2016 High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS will focus the world’s attention on the importance of a Fast-Track approach to the AIDS response over the next five years. The UNAIDS Fast-Track approach aims to achieve ambitious targets by 2020, including:

The blacklisted organizations and their supporters have loudly objected.

Joint United Nations Program on H.I.V./AIDS, UNAIDS in calling for full inclusion notes:

It is crucial that the voices and perspectives of individuals and organizations be heard at this United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS, including the voices of people living with HIV and people most affected by the epidemic, including women and girls, sex workers, people who use drugs, gay men and other men who have sex with men and transgender people. Nongovernmental organizations working on the ground to ensure that no one is left behind must have the opportunity to contribute to this important forum.

Millennium Development Goal 6 of halting and reversing the AIDS epidemic and reaching the historic milestone of 15 million people on treatment by 2015 could not have been reached without the meaningful engagement and participation of people living with and affected by HIV.

The High-Level Meeting on Ending AIDS should be guided by the principles on which the successes of the AIDS response are built—inclusion, participation and dignity. As enshrined in the United Nations Charter, the doors of the United Nations should be open to all.

Michel Sidibé, executive director of  Unaids, warned in an email that:

“the list of excluded groups are many organizations that courageously and effectively speak to the needs of key population groups.”

Mr. Sidibé went on to say that it would be:

“impossible to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat without much closer involvement of key population groups in planning and delivering services.” His email, sent to other United Nations officials and outside groups, was seen by The New York Times.

It seems countries are threatened by the participation of Non Government Organizations. This is no news to a country like Uganda, where recent anti-NGO legislation was passed to give government the ability to curb and restrict the work of non profit organizations, as a tactic to prevent LGBT advocacy and promotion of basic human rights. MORE on ANTI-NGO NEWS in UGANDA

Melanie Nathan,

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