|African countries opposed the move allowing the global body for gays consultative status at the UN [Al Jazeera]
The United Nations has formally recognised the global organisation that brings together gays and lesbians, despite strong opposition from many countries, according to a UN report.
Human rights activists said Monday's move by the world body's Economic and Social Council or ECOSOC was a turning point for sexual minorities at the UN.
They said many gays and lesbians in some developing countries have been under increasing pressure, and faced discrimination and persecution.
In a vote overturning the stand of a New York-based UN committee, ECOSOC approved the granting of consultative status to ILGA - the International Gay and Lesbian Association - which has been seeking admission as a recognised non-governmental organisation (NGO) for over a decade.
Consultative status means ILGA, which claims it has 670 member groups in over 110 countries, can attend UN meetings, speak and provide information to UN bodies on treatment of gays.
It will also be able to take part in meetings of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, where anti-gay sentiment is strong but which last month narrowly passed the first-ever UN resolution on violence against homosexuals.
The overwhelming Monday vote, at a summer session of the 54-member ECOSOC, was hailed by the United States and Belgium.
They said it was a rejection of what they called prejudice and discrimination against gays shown by the smaller NGO committee in New York.
A total of 29 countries - mainly European and Latin American but also including India, South Korea, Japan and Mongolia - voted to admit ILGA, while 16 other countries, including Russia and China, were against.
There were 5 abstentions.
Belgium told ECOSOC it was delighted by the outcome since ILGA would in future be able to contribute to the UN system "information about violations of human rights of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender people throughout the world".
And the United States said the NGO was "committed to respect for universal human rights and freedoms".
But Egypt argued that ILGA had not provided answers to queries on whether some of its members had been involved in paedophilia.
Other NGO's, like the European Humanist Federation which has long sought UN recognition, say the 19-member New York committee, which vets applications and makes recommendations to ECOSOC, fends off groups the majority dislike.
Two others - a democracy-advocating body working mainly in Latin America and a Syrian human rights group based in Paris - were admitted at the ECOSOC session on Monday also against the recommendation of the committee.
Speaking for the European Union, Poland complained that some members of the NGO committee - which currently includes Cuba, Pakistan, Russia and China - opposed recognising NGOs critical of their human rights record or because of the causes they espoused.