mongolia_mg_6168beginnings-800x600Ulaanbaatar: The Mongolia National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Dialogue representatives have in their recent meeting highlighted the need for acceptance and understanding of family members and friends of LGBT persons as well as the attention of policymakers.

The meeting was held March 20-21 in the UN House in Ulaanbaatar, reports

The LGBT Dialogue brought together 80 representatives of various stakeholders, including Government officials, LGBT human rights advocates, civil society activists, researchers and academics.

The Dialogue was organized as part of the regional ‘Being LGBT in Asia’ initiative being undertaken by UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre and USAID Regional Development Mission Asia, both based in Bangkok, Thailand.

UN Resident Coordinator Sezin Sinanoglu acknowledged the initiatives taken in Mongolia in the past years in protecting LGBT rights: the Pride Week and DemoCrazy Carnival organized in 2013 were innovative ways of raising awareness among the general public, while various research studies, including the study conducted by the NHRCM and submissions to UPR on LGBT rights, contributed to bringing LGBT issues to the attention of policymakers.

Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism Ts. Oyungerel talked about the legal registration of the first LGBT organization in Mongolia, and stressed that LGBT issues need to be mainstreamed in every sphere of human life, including culture, sports and tourism.

She also highlighted that enhancing acceptance and understanding of family members and friends of LGBT persons is an issue of culture, which needs to be addressed.

Participants of the Dialogue discussed health, education, employment, family, media and culture related issues that LGBT people face, achievements, and opportunities to make positive changes in legal and social environment that promote human rights of LGBT people.

For example, in the education sector, it is remarkable that younger generation now has much better sexuality education than the previous generations; however, teachers need more training to teach sexual orientation and gender identity. Health issues of transgender girls and women are not researched at all. Employers are reluctant to hire transgender women, simply because of their appearance.

The U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia Piper Anne Wind Campbell said: “There are many in Mongolia who are committed to ensuring that LGBT people are able to exercise their human rights without interference. This dialogue is an important step in that process – to identify the challenges that the LGBT community faces and provide recommendations to improve the social and legal environment here in Mongolia.”

Campbell  said the U.S. Embassy is committed to working with the Mongolian government and the LGBT community to work towards a future without discrimination.

The dialogue will feed into a report on the situation of LGBT people in Mongolia. This report will then inform a regional dialogue on LGBT issues to be held in Thailand in June 2014.  It is also hoped that the dialogue and the report will better inform LGBT human rights programming in the future in Mongolia.

Although homosexuality was decriminalized in Mongolia in 2002, there is no legal protection based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Amnesty International maintains that law enforcement officials continue to commit human rights abuses with impunity and authorities failed to prevent, investigate and punish attacks against LGBT people including attacks by law enforcement officials.