Postcard: OutRight Action International's successes in Asia

Dear Friends,

I hope you will be inspired – as I am – by the success OutRight Action International’s Asia Program is having as they navigate urgent concerns facing LGBTI people in the region. As you and I know, ‘conversion therapy’ is a debunked practice that hate groups continue to promote worldwide. We were disturbed to learn that groups opposing equality for LGBTI people were peddling this damaging practice to South Korean families and calling it an “Ex-Gay Human Rights Forum.” Even more shocking, these events were being held in government buildings!

OutRight Action International immediately wrote to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea calling for an end to the use of public buildings for this purpose and urging the Health Ministry to speak out against the harmful practice. And guess what? We won!

Local news organizations published our letter and, in quick response, the Commission agreed to end the use of public premises for these events. Step-by-step, OutRight Action International is committed to de-bunking ‘conversion therapy’ wherever it rears its ugly head.

OutRight Action International’s Regional Program Coordinator for Asia, Grace Poore, in consultation with Korean LGBTI activists, will continue to hold the Commission’s feet to the fire to secure an unequivocal public statement altogether rejecting “conversion therapy.”

In other news, in the months leading up to Southeast Asia’s largest civil society gathering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in April, OutRight Action International co-coordinated a security plan for 30 LGBTI activists attending the meeting from 8 Asian countries. We took this step because the Government of Malaysia had been unwilling to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders attending the meeting, and we knew that could put LGBTI people at heightened risk of attack.

Grace and Asia Project Coordinator Ging Cristobal, working with a regional LGBTI coalition, orchestrated assistance for monitoring the proceedings for potential emergency intervention from Malaysia’s National Human Rights Commission and from the embassies of allied governments. Happily, the conference went off without incident, despite an outcry from extremists who railed against allowing LGBTI concerns to be part of the gathering. Planning for the worst-case scenario can really pay off.

Finally, OutRight Action International has set-up an emergency fund for our partner in Nepal, the Blue Diamond Society, to help LGBTI recovery from the catastrophic earthquakes. We encourage your donation in BDS’s time of need. Thank you,

Jessica Stern
Executive Director

P.S. We still have tickets available for a Wednesday, June 3 performance of the Tony-nominated musical, Fun Home. If you’re in or around New York City or just want an excuse to visit, we hope you’ll join us.


Photo caption: Seoul, December 2014 - LGBT activists in South Korea pictured here are protesting against the blocking of a human rights charter by Christian groups. Photo courtesy of Rainbow Action.