ASC in the ACSC/APF 2016: “Spreading the Rainbow to Timor Leste”
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC) once again engaged critically with the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) 2016. The conference was held from August 2nd to 5th 2016, at the Dili Convention Center, Dili, Timor Leste. It was a remarkable moment because for the first time ASC have established connection and networking with LGBTIQ community and allies in Timor Leste.
Apart from the active participation of ASC members within the drafting committee and program committee to ensure that SOGIE issues are incorporated in the conference, ASC conducted two side events in collaboration with local community and other organizations.
A Night of Rainbow Solidarity
The first event was a solidarity event titled “Rainbow Solidarity: Strengthening Ties Among LGBTIQ Activists in ASEAN”. The event was held last August 3rd, 2016, in Xanana Reading Room. This was organized collaboratively with ISEAN HIVOS and CODIVA. The event brought together more than 70 participants from various countries and backgrounds such as local LGBTIQ community and allies. The event aimed at strengthening the network among LGBTIQ activists and allies, as well as providing networking space to explore future collaborations. A talk show took place coupled with a cultural performance from local LGBT activists.
The talkshow was hosted by Yoga Putra, the Advocacy Officer of ISEAN HIVOS. The speakers were Bella Galhos, a prominent LGBT advocate; Silveiro Pinto Batista of the Provedoria dos Direito Humanos e Justica (PDHJ, Human Rights Commission of Timor Leste); Natalino Soares Ornai, an LGBT youth advocate leading Hatutan youth organization; and Ryan Silverio, Coordinator of ASEAN SOGIE Caucus. The speakers from the LGBTIQ community in Timor Leste shared their personal experiences and how the living situation of LGBTIQ community in the country. All shared the opinion that public awareness and education are key to foster understanding about diverse SOGIE in society. All speakers also suggested a broader advocacy initiative engaging all stakeholders including government, media, civil society organizations and educators.
Giving his comment about the LGBTIQ situation in Timor Leste, Silveiro from the PDHJ said that the organization has commitment to help mainstreaming the SOGIE issues. It has signed an MoU with CODIVA so that the later can provide SOGIE session in each training conducted by PDHJ. Meanwhile, Ryan from ASC raised the issues of how grass-root level advocacy can bring impact to the regional level advocacy, and vice versa. ASC as a regional network has a strong commitment to assist LGBTIQ in Timor Leste in their advocacy work and struggle.
The talk-show continued with open-mike session where the participants shared their views and experiences. There were representatives from Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand shared their experiences as part of LGBTIQ community in their respective country and how it different or similar with the one in Timor Leste. The open-mike session was conducted very lively and informal.
Pang Khee Teik from Malaysia, who cited his poem “I Wear This Rainbow For All The Citizens of The Rainbow”, ended the session. The event then continued with choir performance from CODIVA and cocktail dinner. All in all, the event was held successfully and gave participants safe space for networking.
Workshop on SOGIE and Intersectionality
During the ACSC/APF, ASC organized a workshop titled “SOGIE and Intersectionality: Towards a truly inclusive ASEAN community”. This took place last August 4, 2016 at the Dili Convention Center. It was attended by more than 30 participants from different countries in the region. The session aimed at addressing intersectionality and how this should be included in the analysis and strategies of LGBTIQ organizations.
Through this workshop, participants were given insights about how to bring intersectionaly of SOGIE issues in the struggle of LGBTIQ community in four countries: Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
In Singapore, Jean Chong explained how to conduct inter-civil society collaboration where LGBTIQ activists also lobbied for issues such as on death penalty and migrant workers during the country’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) preparation.
For Indonesia’s case, Yuli Rustinawati deliberated the importance of engaging other stakeholders such as interfaith organizations, those that are working on human rights defender, and those that are working on HIV/AIDS and sexual rights. Further she explained, the increase hostility in Indonesia toward LGBTIQ community have made the establishment of support systems with groups that can provide legal aid, which can actively tackle the security threats faced by LGBTIQ activists, become very important.
Pang Khee Teik from Malaysia explained that language plays significant role in activism. He suggested that activists need to engage with artists and writers in the struggle because they have the capacity to imagine and re-invent language that will help to guide the struggle.
Anticha Sangchai and Matcha Porn-in, both from Thailand, shared their experiences about being part of LGBTIQ community, a person from rural area, a person from an indigenous groups and how this has created difficulty to access basic services and privilege such as university scholarship.
Several recommendations have been generated from the workshop. It was agreed that there is a need for a wider understanding of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE) within the community especially the marginalized one, as well as for other civil society groups. Other thing, The ACSC/APF needs to remain as a safe and transformative space where individuals and groups who experience multiple forms of discrimination and marginalization are provided opportunities to articulate their issues and recommendation. Based on the intersectional analysis give through the workshop, we hope that it can incite cross-sectoral collaboration and partnership in the participants’ respective countries.
We hope that SOGIE issues will continue to be echoed in the next ACSC/APF. Also, we are looking forward to have future encounter with community in Timor Leste!