An international group representing lesbians and gays have said that they will seek to put pressure on the United Nations to grant full recognition of lesbian and gay human rights through their biannual conference to be held in Geneva next week.

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) said the conference would be addressed by delegates from all continents, including countries where homosexuality is banned.

“How long can lesbian and gay rights be ignored at the UN? That is one of the key questions we will be addressing,” said Stephen Barris of the ILGA . “We will be discussing how we can get an official voice at last.”

The ILGA conference will be held at the same time as the UN Human Rights Commission, which last year adopted a draft resolution on gay rights issue presented by Brazil but which was subsequently dropped following opposition by counties including Iran and Zimbabwe.

In January, a UN committee handling the accreditation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) rejected an application from the ILGA without debate following a vote led by the United States, Iran, Zimbabwe and others.

A special session at the conference will be devoted to those “who seek to organize courageously in the Islamic world,” but the ILGA claim it would avoid a head on confrontation with Islam. “ILGA is aware of the increasing Islamophobia in the West and has always been careful to differentiate itself from those activists who failed to be sensitive on this issue,” the ILGA statement added.

The UN’s World Health Organisation will also attend to discuss AIDS prevention and global trade union groups will discuss homophobia in the workplace.