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ASEAN SOGIE Caucus highlights exclusion of LGBTs from ASEAN anti-violence declaration

Asian LGBT rights activists say Association of South East Asian Nations declarations against violence against women and children are a lost opportunity for protecting LGBT women and young people
Brunei's Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque
Photo by Sam Garza

Asian LGBT rights coalition the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) SOGIE Caucus have expressed their disappointment that LGBT people were left out of two recently passed anti-violence declarations for the region.

Activists hoped that the ASEAN Declarations on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Elimination of Violence Against Children could have included LGBT women and young people but sexual orientation and gender identity/expression (SOGIE) were left out of the declarations passed by delegates.

The group released a video 14 October hoping to highlight the plight of LGBTs in the region as part of a bigger ‘We are #ASEANtoo!’ social media campaign.

‘The ASEAN Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression Caucus (ASC) started this campaign because of the many challenges we faced in ensuring that the two declarations explicitly mentioned SOGIE,’ ASEAN SOGIE Caucus spokesperson Ron de Vera said, ‘Even with the help of our allies, we felt there was a high possibility that SOGIE would be dropped.’

‘When we saw that the officially adopted declarations didn’t mention SOGIE, we were very disappointed. We are also deeply concerned that there is an emerging pattern of SOGIE exclusion from human rights declarations in the ASEAN.’

ASEAN also left LGBTs out of its Human Rights Declaration for the region adopted by the ASEAN on 18 November, 2012.

De Vera said the declarations at the Brunei ASEAN meeting this month could have included LGBT women had regional leaders had the foresight to do so.

‘Lesbians, bisexual women, and trans women in all ASEAN countries face violence too,’ De Vera said.

‘Their experience is further aggravated by the hate and stigma that come with their gender and sexuality, and that is why we need SOGIE to be explicitly mentioned in ASEAN declarations. Why exclude them? They are productive members of the ASEAN community too!’

The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus also called for greater transparency in the ASEAN consultation process for declarations.

The process of drafting the two declarations required national consultations by each country’s women’s caucus which was meant to ensure participation of civil society organization, but the drafts were not widely circulated.

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