On the Exclusion of Sexual Orientation Gender Identity (SOGI) Non-discrimination in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

Statement delivered by Ging Cristobal, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Project Coordinator, Asia and Pacific Islands

Sixth Regional Consultation on ASEAN and Human Rights

For Immediate Release

MANILA—"The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) joins civil society groups in the South East Asian region today in expressing deep disappointment that the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) has excluded sexual orientation and gender identity from the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). This decision overlooks the realities of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the region who experience violence and discrimination at state and non-state levels.

The AICHR has set a dangerous precedent for its role as the first-ever, regional intergovernmental human rights monitoring body. Sexual orientation and gender identity have been recognized as grounds for discrimination and violence by the United Nations and by rights monitoring bodies in Africa, Europe and the Americas.

As the most recent in the region to develop a rights monitoring body, the drafters of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration are out of step with developments in the broader human rights arena. Thus far they have missed the opportunity to adopt a progressive vision of human rights. Instead, AICHR has blamed religion and culture for holding back its commitment to recognizing that all human beings have human rights and that LGBT rights are human rights.

We believe that the decision to omit sexual orientation and gender identity from the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration signals lack of concern for marginalized communities who often suffer horrendous violence because of their sexual orientation and gender identity and have no avenues of legal recourse for widespread and institutionalized discrimination. Those religious minority groups that have noisily demonized LGBT people and spread intolerance in the name of religion do not represent the majority in their countries, nor do they represent the majority point of view of all religions. Most people in the ASEAN countries do not want LGBT people to suffer from violence, discrimination, hatred and intolerance.

There is still time to right a wrong. We ask the AICHR to include sexual orientation and gender identity in the ASEAN Declaration on Human Rights before the Declaration is adopted in November 2012. Non-discrimination, non-violence, and equal protection of the law are critical for the well being of all people in ASEAN countries including lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people.“

See also:

Joint Submission to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

Draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

ASEAN Human Rights Declaration must not provide protections lower than international human rights law and standards

Joint Statement on the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD)

Inclusion of SOGI issues and Rights in the ACSC/APF and in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

Statement of the First ASEAN Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) People’s Caucus

For more information, contact

Ging Cristobal, Project Coordinator, Asia and Pacific Islands: gcristobal@iglhrc.org