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200 Asia-Pacific LGBTI advocates, rights experts in Bangkok for landmark meeting

200 Asia-Pacific LGBTI advocates, rights experts in Bangkok for landmark meeting

Some 200 participants from over 30 countries gathered for the three-day Regional Dialogue on LGBTI Human Rights and Health in Asia-Pacific at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok that concluded yesterday.

Speakers included Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, Member of Parliament of Mongolia; Louise Wall, Member of Parliament of New Zealand; Tarana Halim, Member of Parliament of Bangladesh; law and human rights experts; community organization workers; as well as private sector representatives.

Participants reflected on advances achieved in recent years; persistent challenges LGBTI people experience in the areas of health, education, employment and social protection; and LGBTI rights advocacy, according to an UNDP press statement.

Karma, a community participant from the Kingdom of Bhutan, was quoted as saying in the statement, ‘This dialogue presents a great opportunity not only for open discussion but for a country like Bhutan, it is ground breaking. Asian culture and society in general have a very traditional take on issues like this and the discussions we’ve had are exactly what we need.’

‘Equal rights are not special rights. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights promised a world that is just and inclusive of all, including LGBTI people,’ said Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, in opening remarks via video from UN Headquarters in New York. ‘At UNDP we are committed to reducing inequality and ending exclusion.’

The Dialogue was supported by the Multi-Country South Asia Global Fund HIV programme and the ‘Being LGBT in Asia‘ initiative – the first regional UN initiative working directly on LGBTI rights and inclusion.