Solidarity: A Key Principle in the Promoting and Protecting Human Rights
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus Statement on International Human Rights Day 2021
Human rights violations are constantly faced by our queerblings in Southeast Asia, with ASEAN member states perpetuating and sponsoring the persecution of persons based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex charateristics (SOGIESC). In the middle of this year, Nur Sajat, a transgender woman was flown from Malaysia to Thailand for their safety, but was abducted by Thai authorities while waiting in transit for approval of her asylum. This September, some of our queersiblings in Municipality of Datu Piang, Maguindano in the Philippines were targeted and murdered. And recently, Thailand’s Constitutional Court denied equal marriage on the basis of heteronormative values, with the verdict stating that “the purpose of natural reproduction is to pass the race of nature between male and female, passing the property and creating a bond between father, mother, uncle, aunt, and grandparents. Meanwhile, marriage between the gender diverse may not be able to pass such a delicate bond.”
Furthermore, there are deeply ingrained anti-LGBTIQ narratives espoused by an unholy alliance of conservative and extremist ethno-religious forces and right-wing political actors (e.g. Philippines’ political dynasties, Myanmar’s military junta). These narratives play on a skewed interpretation of democracy, called “absolute majoritarianism”, which divides the public into the majority whom they claim to represent or whose interests they vow to defend; and the minority they perceive as the “other”. which is oftentimes capitalized to give them a sense of political legitimacy.
Ryan Silverio, ASEAN SOGIE Caucus Excecuitive Director said ‘we see in the region how such regimes defend the heterosexual and cisgender majority in the expense of the right and dignity of the so-called LGBTIQ minority. This divide is not just limited to politics at the national level, but also how ASEAN seeks to erase LGBTIQ rights claims in the way they defend it as not generating a consensus.
These situations are very challenging for human rights defenders and advocates in the region, especially because ASEAN isn't a conducive and safe space for right-claiming strategies. Thus, solidarity is a must in promoting the advancement of human rights and ensuring the enjoyment of human rights for all. Solidarity is a core principle in human rights advocacy: it binds diverse interests, identities, and causes. Solidarity fuels our actions in achieving common goals towards survival, living lives of dignity, and social justice.
As we are aware that human rights is the responsibility of states to respect, protect, fulfill and promote, we will always hold them accountable for it. While other social actors need to defend the rights of others, provide redress, and act in situations of crisis. We learn and witness how solidarity became a rallying force behind collective campaigns in response to human rights crises in the likes of Myanmar, Thailand and beyond borders. Solidarity requires us to adjust our way of working and question: are our politics inclusive? Our language, tactics, or strategies empower marginalized groups to be at the same pace in defense for human rights. Solidarity warrants us to undertake reasonable accommodations to ensure that persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups have a meaningful space in our movements.
Let’s reflect this question in our way of working and let's continue to be in solidarity undertaking our mission to defend human rights!
Happy Human Rights Day 🏳️🌈
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus