Promoting and protecting the rights of LGBTI people in Asia and the Pacific
Graphic: People holding rainbow umbrellas
The workshop took stock of the progress and challenges in the region, and helped chart a way forward for human rights work by NHRIs.
A major regional workshop involving representatives from national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and civil society groups has concluded with a call for greater efforts to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in the Asia Pacific.
The Programme of Action and Support on the role of NHRIs in promoting and protecting human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, including health rights, in Asia and the Pacific sets out a wide range of practical steps for NHRIs to bolster their work in the areas of:
- Capacity building, including establishing focal points on sexual orientation and gender identity within their organisations and developing clear work plans for them
- Research, including to document discrimination and human rights violations against LGBTI people and to review existing and proposed laws against international standards
- Education, promotion and dialogue, including initiatives involving LGBTI communities, government agencies, law enforcement officers, the judiciary and faith leaders
- Monitoring, by including a focus on LGBTI people in activities to monitor access to justice, health, housing and education, as well as when monitoring places of detention
- Advocacy, including for changes to national laws to conform with international standards, and for changes to government policies and community attitudes.
The workshop, held in Bangkok on 24-25 February 2015, was jointly organised by the APF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in cooperation with the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM).
The Programme of Action and Support also included initiatives for the APF and UNDP to continue to support NHRIs to promote and protect the human rights of LGBTI people, as well as to facilitate the sharing of research and examples of good practice between NHRIs.
"NHRIs are particularly important in supporting the rights of LGBTI people. LGBTI people often experience serious human rights violations. They are often stigmatised, marginalised by their communities and shunned by their families," said APF senior consultant Chris Sidoti, who facilitated the discussions with Professor Vitit Muntarbhorn.
"In recent years, NHRIs in the Asia Pacific region have emerged as key advocates for the human rights of LGBTI people and their equality," he said.
"The goal of this workshop was to learn from and build on the good work that NHRIs have been doing and to find ways to be more effective in the future."
Representatives from the NHRIs of Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor Leste were among more than 40 participants involved in the two-day gathering.
As part of the Programme of Action and Support, APF members will report annually to the APF on steps they have taken to promote the rights of LGBTI people.
- People holding rainbow umbrellas - Still from Courage Unfolds (c) 2011, IGLHRC and LeAP Philippines, Inc.