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.