The text for the largest trade deal ‘in a generation’ includes no provisions for vulnerable LGBT people.
This is despite prospective member countries with oppressive laws regarding LGBT citizens.
The TPP – Trans-Pacific Partnership – establishes trade relations across products and industries, from pharmaceuticals and milk, to copyright and banking in the 12 Pacific Rim countries involved.
All twelve countries are now reviewing the text and will need to respond after 90 days.
The countries involved in the deal are: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam. China is notably missing from deal.
Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei all penalize homosexuality.
In Singapore and Malaysia it is illegal to be a gay male (although it is legal for a woman), punishable by up to two and 20 years imprisonment, respectively; although the law is not enforced in Singapore, and is only enforced on Muslims in Malaysia according to local testimony.
Last year, the Sultan of Brunei enacted Sharia law in the country which punishes ‘sodomy’ with stoning to death.
As part of the deal Brunei will ‘prohibit discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, including on the basis of race, sex, color, religion, political opinion and extraction’ but with no mention of LGBTI people.
Malaysia has said it will ‘remove the prohibitions on employment of women in certain occupations.’
LGBTI rights groups have criticized the deal, which has been defended by president Barack Obama. In 2014 the Human Rights Campaign along with the National LGBTQ Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality petitioned the White House to require Brunei to address its ‘human rights violations’ as a part of the deal.
US politicians including Democrats Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have condemned it, both for involving countries with poor human rights records, and fear of what it will do to the domestic job market and manufacturing.
Sanders described the deal as ‘disastrous’.