In Burma gay men are asking to be decriminalized, in Thailand transgender women want to be spared military service and in the Philippines LGBT rights activists are pushing for an anti-discrimination law.
Events are being held across Asia today to bring attention to various anti-LGBT aspects of society for IDAHO (International Day of Homophobia and Transphobia).
In burgeoning democracy Burma, which had its first IDAHO celebration last year, seven cities held anti-homophobia and transphobia events. Myanmar National Human Rights Commission, the British Embassy and UNAIDS spoke at the event in capital Yangon.
Organizers of the Burmese events, LGBT rights activists Colors Rainbow, also announced that they are campaigning for the government to repeal Section 377 – a British colonial era law that criminalizes gay sex.
At an event in Bangkok, the local government, Miss Tiffany’s transgender beauty pageant and Thai Transgender Alliances organized a press conference to promote ‘transrespect’ and wipe out transphobia.
Deputy Bangkok governor Dr Bhoodsadee Tamthai spoke at the press conference and there was a panel discussion on transwomen in the military.
Mandatory military service operates on a random draft lottery in Thailand and many transwomen find being called up to join the army a harrowing experience. They must either suffer in the macho atmosphere of the barracks or be declared mentally unfit for service.
At another event in Bangkok LGBT rights activists organized a ‘rainbow people’ event where they asked supporters to come dressed in a color of the rainbow to flashmobs at four locations around the city.
A forum held at the University of the Philippines in metro Manilla discussed LGBT rights in the whole of Asia. Speakers from China and Thailand joined local academics, activists and UN volunteers to discuss the topic ‘Being LGBT in Asia’.
A statement from Filipino group Proud to be LGBT for IDAHO said:
‘Despite best efforts to pass anti-discrimination laws in the country, a lot of cities and regions still do not provide any legal protection against homophobia and other discriminatory acts.
‘Homosexual violence is still rampant in the Philippines with deaths related to sexual orientation on the rise. In 2011, there were 28 homicides related to, or suspected to have been because of homosexuality.’
IDAHO events were also held in Cambodia (as part of their Pride week), Hong Kong (a rainbow flashmob), Singapore (book launch for I Will Survive) and Vietnam.
In India a street photography exhibition is being held in Kolkata and in Howrah, West Bengal there is a candle-lit vigil for victims of transphobia.