The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional organization established in 1967 comprised of countries in the South East Asia region. In 2009, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was formed to promote and protect the human rights of people in the region and was tasked to formulate the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), which aimed to standardize all human rights of all people in the Southeast region of Asia.
As it is, LGBTIQ persons in this region are subjected to systematic discrimination and violence endorsed by the state. We are concerned that the lack of protection and recognition of LGBTIQ persons in the AHRD will further exacerbate (or deteriorate) the rights of LGBTIQ people in their respective countries.
§ Six member countries of ASEAN have laws criminalizing same sex activities between mutually consenting adults: Brunei, Burma, Malaysia and Singapore, Philippines (in Marawi City), Indonesia ( in South Sumatera province),
§ Five member countries have laws that target and criminalize transgender women for ‘cross dressing’: Brunei, Burma, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
§ None of the 10 member countries of ASEAN have national anti discrimination laws to protect people of diverse SOGI or other minorities and vulnerable groups.
The AHRD does not include or recognize the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) persons.
Since it’s conception, LGBT groups have been demanding the inclusion of SOGI rights in the AHRD but our demand falls on deaf ears. This is a clear sign by the member countries of ASEAN that they do not recognize the existence of LGBTIQ persons and have no interest in protecting and promoting the human rights of LGBTIQ persons in this region.
To the ASEAN Heads of States,
We, the undersigned, urge the heads of state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to include provisions in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) that will, promote respect and protect the rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) in the ASEAN region.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people in the ASEAN region not only lack protection in their respective countries, but are also subjected to criminalization under colonial archaic discriminatory laws.
Apart from these morality laws, other laws such as the pornography and anti trafficking laws have been used disproportionately to shut down LGBTIQ spaces and harass, arrest, detain, penalize and imprison LGBTIQ people.
In order for the AHRD to be a credible human rights tool that protects and benefits the ASEAN community as a whole without discrimination, the declaration has to be consistent with existing international human rights laws.
The ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights must live up to international human rights standards and ensure that the rights of LGBTIQ people are recognized and protected in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.
We demand the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration in the following two Principles of the Declaration:
GENERAL PRINCIPLE #2 - Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status.
GENERAL PRINCIPLE #4 - The rights of women, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) people and vulnerable and marginalized groups are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of human rights and fundamental freedoms.