Statement for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) 2017
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC) joins the global LGBTIQ community and all our allies in celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT).
In Southeast Asia, our members continue bravely in our struggle to make the region a place where all the colors of the rainbow can flourish. But the struggle is becoming more dangerous with each passing day, and the roll call of human rights abuses against LGBTIQ people by the governments of ASEAN countries is a long one. In Indonesia, there is a renewed call by extremist groups to criminalize same-sex relations. In Malaysia, “conversion therapy” and other dangerous practices are sponsored by government institutions. And in Brunei, LGBTIQ people are routinely arrested and beaten by state forces on the pretenses of “defending public morals”. Across the region, even in so-called “friendly” countries like the Philippines, stories of brutal physical and mental violence -- ranging from verbal abuse to criminal neglect and “corrective rape” (i.e. sexual abuse perpetrated in the belief that it will make the victim “straight”) -- continue to be shared by LGBTIQ people. And in those stories, the culprits are their own families, at the hands of those who ought to love them most.
But beneath the struggle is hope, and we can see that there is room for the rainbow even in places with so little light to go around. In Vietnam, a growing movement of parents and friends travel the country in defense of their LGBTIQ children. In Cambodia, efforts are underway to integrate more affirmative discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) into their public education programs. And in Timor-Leste, a fresh and enthusiastic LGBTIQ movement is giving activists in Southeast Asia a template for advocacy that is truly rooted in our unique experiences and contexts. In these stories, families are also at the forefront, and they guide us as we reshape the region into a place worthy of the rainbow.
We celebrate IDAHOT to showcase our victories for the rights of LGBTIQ people, as an expression of our vision of a future where diversity is cherished and protected. But we also celebrate to commemorate our suffering, as an act of protest against the continuing injustices perpetuated by the state and societies at large. On this day, we celebrate the lives of those who continue to fight for LGBTIQ people, the memories of those we have lost, and the dreams of those who see a future where love always comes naturally.