Three gay groups have been granted consultative status to the United Nations (UN).

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this week granted consultative status to ILGA-Europe, the European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, and to the Danish and German national lesbian and gay association, LBL and LSVD.

The groups now join Australian based group, the campaign for Coalition of Activist Lesbians, a group based in Australia, in being permitted to participate in the UN’s work and speak in their own name.

The Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians was approved by a vote of 23 in favour to 16 against, with 11 abstentions.

The decision granting the International Lesbian and Gay Federation – Europe consultative status was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour to 17 against, with 10 abstentions.

The decision on granting consultative status to the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany was granted by 24 in favour to 16 against, with 10 abstentions.

Patricia Prendiville, executive director of ILGA-Europe, called it a “historic decision.”

She said: “We are delighted with the decision to grant ILGA-Europe and two of its members consultative status with ECOSOC.

“This is a truly historic decision as now organisations representing and defending rights of LGBT people can address discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity at the United Nations level. This is the best recognition of LGBT rights as human rights that LGBT activists could have received.

“We hope this decision marks a fundamental change at the UN level with regards to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Just days ago 54 member states of the UN supported a statement acknowledging these forms of discrimination and calling upon the UN to seriously address them.”

ILGA, a federation of 550 LGBT groups around the world, has been working for a number of years to have sexual orientation and gender identity come out at the United Nations.

The first speech at the UN on LGBT rights was given in its name in 1992. In 2006, ILGA held its world conference in Geneva, European headquarters of the United Nations and organised four panels on LGBT issues at the second session of the Human Rights Council.

ILGA also initiated a campaign to have an increasing number of LGBT groups apply for ECOSOC status.

“Some states argue or fear we may be asking for special rights and use this as an alibi to block us from entering the UN,” Rosanna Flamer Caldera, Co-Secretary General of ILGA said.

“This is not a question of special rights. It is a basic question of equality and universality of human rights. We demand the right not to be discriminated against on the grounds of who we are, as lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender persons. On the international level, this starts with the United Nations recognising the mere fact LGBT people exist, that they can organise as groups and, as such, participate in UN work and protest against the many human rights violations we still suffer from around the world.”