ASEAN Grassroots Peoples Assembly
Inclusion of SOGI issues and Rights in the ACSC/APF and in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration
The convening of the ASEAN Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) People’s Caucus at Phnom Penh, Cambodia was not only to celebrate diversity but moreso, to remind the governments and members of civil society that the recognition, promotion and protection of LGBTIQ rights are still long overdue.
For the second year, issues pertaining to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) have been given equal priority and attention as other struggles and issues at the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF). While we appreciate the long overdue acknowledgement and opportunity, we need the ACSC/APF to do more than just lipservice.
During the 8th ASCS/APF in Jakarta, Indonesia, the LGBTIQ caucus explicitly made visible the violations of human rights and the corresponding emotional and psychological impacts to the lives of ASEAN LGBTIQ persons. Hence, we are incensed and extremely disappointed by the exclusion of SOGI in the draft of the ASEAN’s Human Rights Declaration, which is a blatant manifestation of discrimination against LGBTIQ persons.
Across the ASEAN region, LGBTIQ persons are either treated as second class citizens, criminals, are seen as deviants, and in some cases are not even recognized as human beings. We are made to lead dual lives and be ashamed of ourselves for who we are. We are subjected to name calling, condemnation, taunts, reparative treatments and other inhumane abuses. Discrimination and violence come not only from our families, friends, communities, and employers but also from state institution such as state actors, especially police and religious officers. Even in the face of discrimination and violence, the governments refuse to protect our basic human rights.
The AHRD, which is highly going to be adapted during the ASEAN Summit on November 18, 2012 does not include or recognize the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) persons. Since it’s conception, LGBT groups have been demanding the inclusion of SOGI rights in the AHRD but our demand falls on deaf ears. Since SOGI rights will directly oppose the retention of the Syariah laws and archaic anti-sodomy laws, which are being protected by some States, efforts to exclude SOGI in the AHRD have been consistent as evidenced in the absence of LGBT rights in the AHRD draft.
This is a clear sign by the member countries of ASEAN that they do not recognize the existence of LGBTIQ persons and have no interest in protecting and promoting the human rights of LGBTIQ persons in this region.
It is in this spirit of pride and dignity that we are reclaiming our rightful space in our respective countries and in our region, and demand our governments to: