Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity
Discrimination and violence against people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity is a serious problem in many countries across the Asia Pacific.
People of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, whether actual or perceived, have faced execution or extra-judicial killing, torture, rape, arbitrary detention, unfair trials and, in the case of women, forced pregnancy and forced marriage.
These human rights violations can occur at the hands of government officials and authorities, as well other groups in the community.
Many also experience serious discrimination in relation to employment and access to education, housing and health services.
In 2006, in response to well-documented patterns of abuse, a distinguished group of international experts outlined the international human rights standards relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. They are known as the Yogyakarta Principles.
National human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific region are actively working to promote respect for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, as well as to respond to violations of their rights.
The Yogyakarta Principles provide a framework for the work being undertaken by NHRIs, which includes advocacy for reform of laws and policy, investigating and resolving complaints, education and awareness raising activities and establishing partnerships with LGBT organisations.
NHRIs are also drawing attention to the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in discussions on the international stage, through the UN Human Rights Council and its mechanisms.
The APF is actively supporting its members in this vital work.
Over the year to March 2013, the APF, the International Development Law Organization, UNDP and SAARCLAW (the legal apex body of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) have worked with NHRIs in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste to document their capacity to promote the rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and to respond to human rights violations.
The process revealed strong efforts by these NHRIs to build their institutional capacity and to foster relationships with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity communities.
2009: APF Regional Workshop
In May 2009, the APF brought together member institutions to discuss the role of NHRIs in promoting implementation of the Yogyakarta Principles. The regional workshop, the first of its kind, concluded with a range of concrete outcomes that helped provide a roadmap for NHRIs to plan and undertake work to promote the human rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity in their countries.
2010: Advisory Council of Jurists reference
The APF’s Advisory Council of Jurists conducted an in-depth study of the domestic laws and policies relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in each of the 17 APF member institutions at that time.
The report, published in December 2010, assessed the consistency of these laws and policies with international human rights standards and provided recommendations to assist NHRIs address identified shortcomings.
The ACJ report and recommendations provide a framework for the work of APF member institutions in promoting and protecting the rights of people of diverse sexuality and gender identity.
2010-2011: NHRI activities
In 2010, the APF coordinated a joint funding application to secure financial support to assist four member institutions implement a range of targeted activities to raise awareness and bolster protection for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The projects, undertaken by the NHRIs of Australia, Mongolia, New Zealand and the Philippines, all took place prior to April 2011.
International recognition of SOGI rights
The rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity are increasingly being given greater attention through the international human rights system.
NHRIs are also raising the issue at the UN Human Rights Council and in their reports to the human rights treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review.