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PRESS RELEASE: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual And Queers Take Stage On ASEAN People’s Forum

The Opening of ACSC/APF 7 (Jakarta)

Jakarta, 4 May 2011

For Immideate Release

For the first time in the history of ASEAN Civil Society Conference, group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans people, intersex and queer people's (LGBTIQ) rights are being highlighted.

They come in the form of a workshop of Promotion and Protection of human rights so called LGBTIQ in ASEAN, that presented the situation, challenges, achievements and demands made by the groups.

ASEAN is the birthplace of the Yogyakarta Principles on the Application of International Human Rights Law in Relation to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI). Yet, LGBTIQs in ASEAN face gross abuse of their rights and are consistently abused, discriminated, persecuted and criminalized because of who they are, perpetrated by both state and non-state actors. In some instances, laws that are neutral in nature, such as anti-kidnapping laws, public obscenity laws and anti-drug laws are also used unfairly to target LGBTIQ community. Lack of recognition of their self-autonomy also results in transgender persons not being allowed to have sex reassignment surgeries, change their sex on official documents and seek proper medical assistance. Due to the lack of recognition of their legal rights, many LGBTIQs find themselves without legal recourse to seek redress for crimes and abuses committed against them.

Though, activists have successfully created spaces and movements to promote LGBTIQ rights, such as pride parades in the Phillippines, Pink Dot gathering in Singapore, Seksualiti Merdeka in Malaysia, Phnom Penh Pride in Cambodia, Q Film Fest in Indonesia, Sexual Diversity Day in Thailand, and others. Many countries also commemorate occasions such as International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO).

As such, the ASEAN LGBTIQ caucus, with feedback from the workshop audience, and in recognition of the limitation of the format, made the following three recommendations to governments of ASEAN:

1. Repeal laws that directly and indirectly criminalize SOGI, recognize LGBTIQ rights as human rights, and harmonize national laws, policies and practices with the Yogyakarta Principles.

2. Establish national level mechanisms and review existing regional human rights instruments (AIHRC, ACWC) to include the promotion and protection of the equal rights of all people regardless of SOGI with the active engagement of the LGBTIQ community.

3. Depathologize SOGI and promote psychosocial well-being of people of diverse SOGI in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) standards, and ensure equal access to health and social services.

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