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16 Nov 2012

68 LGBT groups and NGOs protest non-inclusion of LGBTs in ASEAN Human Rights Declaration

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) heads of government are set to formally adopt the first ever ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) at the ASEAN Summit in  Phnom Penh on Nov 18. To the grave disappointment of representatives of the LGBTIQ peoples throughout the region, the declaration did not include protections for this highly vulnerable group.

The following is a statement issued on Nov 16, 2012 by the ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus and is endorsed by 69 LGBT groups and NGOs. The ASEAN LGBT Caucus is a loose coalition of LGBTIQ groups and indiviudals across Southeast Asian countries fighting for the inclusion of LGBT rights in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.

Follow the Asean Lgbt Caucus on Facebook. Top of page: LGBT activists from ASEAN member countries in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

We, the ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus are outraged and disappointed by the forthcoming decision of the ASEAN Head of States to adopt the AHRD that intentionally excludes sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). Despite countless attempts and demands by the members of civil society, including LGBTIQ groups, to push for its inclusion, ASEAN have remained reticent to the attempts. This AHRD not only shows a lack of respect to LGBTIQ people but also makes a mockery of the international human rights values and principles that all nations and citizens abide by and are held accountable to.

“Evidently, the numerous failed attempts to engage with AICHR and the recent adoption of ASEAN Declaration with no mention of SOGI, sends a clear message that the human rights of LGBTIQ people are irrelevant to them,” explained Vien Tanjung, founder of Her Lounge.

All 10-member countries of ASEAN have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which have specific provisions of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and are therefore, obliged to protect and promote the rights of LGBTIQ people in the ASEAN region.

“Malaysia is a member country of the UN Human Rights Council and Malaysia was re-elected for the second term this year. It is shocking that ASEAN with such collective expertise and knowledge on human rights; discrimination is still persistent in this region. This is evidenced by the exclusion of SOGI in the AHRD,” said Thilaga, an LGBTIQ activist.

In order for the AHRD to be a relevant and credible human rights tool that protects and benefits the ASEAN community as a whole without discrimination as it aspires to be, the declaration has to be consistent with existing international human rights laws.

Jean Chong of Sayoni from Singapore also expressed her disappointment to the exclusion of SOGI in the AHRD. “No ASEAN citizen can aspire to her/his fullest potential as a citizen in their respective country with the tunnel vision and self serving approach of their governments.”

“We encourage everyone to publicly denounce support and legitimacy of the ASEAN Declaration. The priority of this declaration is not human rights, but economic and political interests of the ASEAN states at the expense of the ASEAN peoples,” explained Ging Cristobal, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional organization established in 1967 that comprises 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.

Endorsed by,

1. Akei, Philippines

2. Aksi for Gender, Social and Ecological Justice, Indonesia

3. Alliance of Young Nurse Leaders & Advocates International Inc., Philippines

4. Amnesty International Philippines

5. Anjaree, Thailand

6. Arus Pelangi, Indonesia

7. Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN)

8. B-Change Foundation, Philippines

9. Babaylanes, Philippines

10. Bahaghari Dasmarinas, Ekklesia Tou Theou (Church of God), Philippines

11. CamASEAN Youth's Future Group Work for Human Rights, Cambodia

12. Drodrolagi Movement, Fiji

13. For Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Rights Project (For-SOGI), Thailand

14. Forum LGBTIQ Indonesia

15. Free Community Church, Singapore

16. GAYa NUSANTARA, Indonesia

17. GWLmuda - Indonesian National Coalition of Young Gay, Waria and other MSM, Indonesia

18. Harry Benjamin Syndrome (HBS), Indonesia

19. HerLounge, Indonesia

20. Indignation, Singapore

21. Indonesia for Human’s

22. Indonesian Women's Coalition for Justice and Democration (Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia untuk Keadilan dan Demokrasi), Indonesia

23. International Commission of Jurists

24. International Gay Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

25. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ASIA

26. iSee, Vietnam

27. Justice for Sisters, Malaysia

28. KANHNHA, Cambodia

29. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS), Malaysia

30. Ladlad Region II, Philippines

31. Likhaan Center For Women's Health, Philippines

32. Lunduyan ng Sining, Philippines

33. Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM), Malaysia

34. Migrant Forum in Asia

35. Oogachaga, Singapore

36. Our Voice Indonesia

37. People like Us, Singapore

38. Pergerakan Indonesia

39. Perkumpulan Equitas Indonesia (Equitas Indonesia Association), Indonesia

40. Philwomen on ASEAN, Philippines

41. Philippine Forum on Sports, Culture, Sexuality and Human Rights (TEAM PILIPINAS)

42. Pink Dot, Singapore

43. Project X, Singapore

44. Projek Dialog, Malaysia

45. Proud to be LGBT Campaign (PTBL)

46. Q-Munity - Queer activism through arts and films, Indonesia

47. Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), Cambodia

48. Rainbow Pilipinas Production

49. Rainbow Rights, Project, Inc., Philippines

50. Safe Singapore, Singapore

51. Sayoni, Singapore

52. Seksualiti Merdeka, Malaysia

53. Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign, Singapore

54. SinQSA (Singapore Queer Straight Alliance), Singapore

55. Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia

56. Sons, Singapore

57. South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)

58. Southeast Asia Women's Caucus on ASEAN

59. TLF Collective Share, Philippines

60. Thai Transgender Alliance, Thailand

61. The Alliance of Young Health Advocates, Philippines

62. The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association- ADHO, Cambodia

63. The Lesbian Activism Project, Philippines

64. Think Centre, Singapore

65. Transgender Colors, Inc. Cebu City, Philippines

66. Women's Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), Philippines

67. Young Out Here, Singapore

68. Youth Voices Count, Regional Network of young MSM and TG, Asia Pacific

The ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus released a petition on November 6, 2012 to mobilize support for the inclusion of the sexual orientation and gender identity in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. 1,384 individuals signed the petition.

Follow the Asean Lgbt Caucus on Facebook.

Reader's Comments

1. 2012-11-16 18:40  
Could someone cite me the articles in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) that explicitly mention sexual orienation or gender identity.
2. 2012-11-20 04:43  
I watched the politicians from the ASEAN countries and President Obama holding hands at the signing of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. These leaders have no shame and will be completely responsible for the harm and human suffering we in the GLBT community will continue to suffer do to their actions.
3. 2012-11-20 17:11  
During the 32nd Session of CRC (March 2003), the Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted sexual orientation in its General Comments No. 3 , which focuses on HIV/AIDS and the rights of the child. Similarly, during the 33rd Session of the CRC (July 2003), the Committee on the Rights of the Child made explicit reference to sexual orientation in its General Comment No. 4, which focuses on the Adolescent health and development in the context of the Convention on the Rights of the Child .

The CRC is universally ratified within ASEAN and no ASEAN Member-State made any reservations on the non-discrimination provision of the CRC, which specifically mentioned sexual orientation as one of the protected categories under the CRC’s non-discrimination principle.

During the 47th Session of CEDAW (October 2010), the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (“the CEDAW Committee”) adopted sexual orientation and gender identity in its General recommendation No. 27 , which focuses on older women and the protection of their human rights. Similarly, in General Recommendation No. 28 on the Core Obligations of States Parties under Article 2 of CEDAW , the CEDAW Committee made explicit reference to SOGI. The CEDAW Committee practice in the past has strongly urged states parties through its Concluding Observations for decriminalization where sexual orientation and related behavior is criminalized in the law

UN citations
CRC/GC/2003/4 page 2
Concluding Observations to Kyrgyzstan CEDAW A/54/38 page 4 para 127-128

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