LGBTIQ Activists Demand Protections From Southeast Asian Human Rights Mechanisms

In their review of human rights developments in the Southeast Asia region, LGBT activists participating in the Fourth Regional Consultation of ASEAN and Human Rights in Bali, Indonesia on November 27-29, 2011, stated that governments in Southeast Asia were generally unsupportive of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, and did little or nothing to address violence and discrimination against LGBT people although they were among the most vulnerable to human rights violations including torture, extra judicial killings, violence against women, and widespread discrimination at all levels of society.

The LGBT activists were among forty Southeast Asian civil society organizations (CSOs) that were meeting with two human rights monitoring bodies in Southeast Asia—the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR inaugurated in October 2009) and the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC inaugurated in April 2010).

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established in 1967 by the governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand to promote economic growth, cultural development, social and technical progress. By 1999, Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam had joined ASEAN. Although the ASEAN Charter mandates non-interference in the domestic affairs of member states, the AICHR is meant to serve as a regional consultative human rights mechanism—“as part of an evolutionary approach to strengthen human rights architecture in the region.”1

Recommendations from the CSOs to the AICHR and the ACWC included several explicitly referenced demands to protect LGBT rights in the ASEAN region:

  • Establish new national level mechanisms and review existing mechanisms to ensure that they protect and promote equal rights of all people regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identities (SOGI), with the active engagement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and
  • Authorities must promulgate and enforce laws to protect and promote LGBTIQ rights by ensuring that discrimination, harassment, marginalization and violence against LGBTIQ people by state officials, non-state actors and community leaders are never tolerated.
  • Plan and carry out training on LGBTIQ rights and issues with the participation of LGBTIQ people.
  • Reflect commitments to LGBTIQ rights in the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights (ADHR).
  • Exercise due diligence to prevent abuses against LGBTIQ people regardless of the identity of the perpetrators.

Download the November 2011 Statement of CSOs during the 4th Regional Consultation on ASEAN Human Rights »

Read the May 2011 Statement of the First ASEAN Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) People’s Caucus to the AICHR »