ASEAN SOGIE Caucus Statement to Commemorate IDAHOT
The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus joins the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) communities and movements worldwide in commemorating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). Today we make our voices louder and our collective actions stronger in reminding governments to respect and protect the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all LGBTIQ persons.
ASEAN remains to be an unsafe region for LGBTIQ persons. Homosexuality remains to be criminalized in Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore. Laws and social norms against ‘cross dressing’ have resulted to persecution of and denial of access to public services against transgender and gender diverse persons. Cultural norms and practices that stigmatize LGBTIQ persons have legitimized violence in both public and private spaces. Moreover, all countries in ASEAN do not have gender recognition laws thereby disallowing transgender persons from exercising self-determination over one’s gender identity.
Meanwhile, existing ASEAN human rights mechanisms are not fully responsive to the rights of LGBTIQ persons. Nothing in the existing priorities and plans of action of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission of Human Rights (AICHR) and the ASEAN Commission for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) reflects the need to eradicate all forms of discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ persons. Moreover, the existing ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) limits the rights of LGBTIQ persons by allowing ASEAN member states to prioritize often homophobic and transphobic domestic laws and practices over international human rights standards.
ASEAN SOGIE Caucus affirms that governments have the obligation to ensure that all LGBTIQ persons are protected from all forms of discrimination and violence.
We call on governments to remove all legal, political, social and other barriers that discriminate a person due to one’s sexual orientation, and gender identity and expression (SOGIE), including the repeal of laws that directly or indirectly criminalize LGBTIQ persons. We recommend that governments strengthen the mandate and capacities of national and regional institutions to independently monitor, and to provide accessible and effective remedies for human rights violations against LGBTIQ persons. Moreover, we urge governments and other stakeholders to eliminate customary and other practices that pathologize or stigmatize a person on the basis of SOGIE.
*ASEAN Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Caucus is a regional advocacy network with members from at least 8 countries in Southeast Asia. It aims to build a strong LGBTIQ movement that holds governments accountable towards protection and promotion of human rights of all persons regardless of SOGIE.
*The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT) is commemorated on May 17 of each year to raise awareness and heighten action to address discrimination and violence faced by LGBTIQ persons. It was on May 17, 1990 when the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.