asean_indoMyanmar: LGBT rights activists attending the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Civil Society Conference/ ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) in Yangon are continuing to lobby its 10 member-states to promote and protect the rights of its LGBTIQ people.

The conference is taking place in Yangon March 21-23, reports

The 10 member-states are: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The ACSC/APF is held ahead of the ASEAN Summit in May which will also be hosted by Myanmar, the Chair of ASEAN this year.

The ASEAN SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression) demand that laws that directly or indirectly criminalize LGBTI people be immediately repealed, reports

It also calls for all individual national level human rights groups to include the promotion and protection of the equal rights of all people as well as to ensure equal access to health and social services regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Each country in the ASEAN has laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, contrary to their constitutions that guarantee fundamental rights and liberties for all,” Chumaporn Taengkliang, co-founder of Together for Equality Action Group (TEA) from Thailand said in a statement.

Meanwhile, state sanctioned violence continues unchecked, Chumaporn said. “In such environments, we face barriers from fully enjoying our fundamental rights, accessing services, and living a fulfilling and meaningful life without fear, shame and guilt.”

Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and Myanmar – all of which are former British colonies – criminalize gay sex with a similar “section 377” anti gay sodomy law introduced during the British colonial era and which is still retained and enforced.

Same sex relations carry a carries a 10-year prison term in Myanmar for example and in Malaysia is punishable by up to 20 years in jail and even public whipping.

None of the 10 member-states recognize same-sex unions or marriage.

In an update posted on their website on Friday, the group noted that throughout the plenary sessions, ‘the question of if and when the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration will include provisions protecting the rights of LGBTIQ people remained unanswered.’

The group also reported that when the idea of including LBTQ women’s issues alongside general women’s issues was raised, the panel “responded with consensus that LGBTIQ issues are too contentious for the women’s movement to support on the ASEAN platform and should be pursued and raised by the individual groups.”