- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2002

A European push to reinstate United Nations observer status for a Brussels-based homosexual lobbying organization suspended for pedophile links has brought strong opposition from Muslim states, causing the Bush administration to reassess earlier support for the group.
Pakistan, a major U.S. ally in the war against terrorism, and other Arab countries will lead a fight today in the U.N. Economic and Social Council, or ECOSOC, to uphold a prior committee vote to continue blocking the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) from attending U.N. meetings and informal negotiating sessions closed to the public and press.
The ILGA was ousted as a credentialed U.N. nongovernmental organization (NGO) in 1994 just a year after being accepted because a founding 15-year member, the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), advocates and promotes man-boy sex.
In January meetings of ECOSOC's NGO committee, European and U.S. delegates said they believed ILGA claims that the association had repudiated NAMBLA and other groups that advocate pedophilia. But the position was rejected in a 8-6 committee vote on Jan. 23.
In informal discussions on Friday, in preparation for the ECOSOC meeting today, French and German delegates announced they would try to overturn the earlier vote against ILGA's reinstatement. The U.S. delegation, which had voted to approve the ILGA, was silent on the move, participants said.
Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said Friday he did not know whether the United States would continue to back the Europeans in support of the ILGA. "I'll call you back," he said, but did not.
At the January meeting, U.S. representative Richard Williams said the ILGA had satisfied U.N. demands to expel pedophiles. "The representative of the United States, who said his government had sought the earlier suspension of the organization because of the pedophilia issue, said he had not seen any proof that the organization now condoned pedophilia," a committee report said. "On the contrary, he saw evidence that the NGO was saving lives in the struggle against HIV/AIDS."
But the Pakistani delegate, Ishtiag H. Anrabi, said ILGA representative Claudine Ouellet of Quebec failed, in nine hours of discussions on Jan. 22 and 23 regarding the group's application, to demonstrate that ILGA had no pedophilia connections
The group has refused to provide a list of its members for independent verification of claims that pro-pedophile members have been expelled, he said in an interview. Despite claims that pedophilia is repudiated, "there is no mention" of that in the ILGA constitution, membership application or the signed statement required from member groups, he said.
"They have to demonstrate in a very categorical and substantial way that they no longer are affiliated with groups condoning or promoting pedophilia," Mr. Anrabi said. "It has to shun those people out of its ranks. "
Kursad Kahramanoglu, ILGA's co-secretary-general, said the opposition stemmed from prejudice against homosexuality.
"We have not been able to beat homophobia around the world. The situation is particularly difficult amongst the Islamic states," Mr. Kahramanoglu said.
The ILGA leader, a native of Turkey, said NAMBLA is "definitely not" part of the federation that claims more than 300 affiliates in 76 countries. "No NAMBLA official or affiliate is a member of ILGA."
However, both groups lobby for repeal of age-of-consent laws preventing consensual sex between adults and minors.
ILGA's Web site ranks countries as discriminatory if their age-of-consent laws for male-to-male and female-to-female sex are not as low as consent laws governing heterosexuals, which in some cases are as low as 15 years of age.
ILGA is unwilling to make public its entire member list for review, Mr. Kahramanoglu said, because the information would be used by opponents to persecute homosexuals.
"There are still countries in the world in which to be a person with a different sexuality is a criminal offense," he said. "One of ILGA's aims is to help these people, not to jeopardize their security."


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