“While parts of Asia — in particular Southeast and East Asia — are somewhat more tolerant and accepting of LGBT people than other regions, Asian LGBT people in many countries continue to face hardships,” according to a preliminary report of the UN study.
The report “Being LGBT in Asia” is a multiphase initiative by development officials and advisers involved to understand challenges faced by Asia’s LGBT people.
It is being conducted by the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.N. Development Programme, alongside grass-roots LGBT organizations and community leaders.
Implemented in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam — and 10 additional jurisdictions, the initiative aims to educate and raise awareness about LGBT rights and the benefits in the development process.
Among the issues LGBT Asians face are a lack of legal protections against discrimination and violence; challenges in accessing social services, including education and health care; and social and cultural stigma against sexual minorities, it said.
Health care services “tend to be HIV-specific and do not cover other LGBT-specific needs like general reproductive health and mental health services,” it reported.
It also noted that “the ability to change gender and access to transition-specific health services is limited.”
“Being LGBT in Asia” proposes follow up strategies to meet specific challenges in focus countries, including addressing the censorship of homosexuality content in media and passing and implementing laws that guarantee rights and protection for LGBT people.
The information-gathering phase of the initiative will conclude at the end of September but work will continue under the second phase, which will include development assistance activities as well as continued learning and networking.
Organizers plan to hold a regional dialogue in Bangkok in February 2015 that will bring together more than 200 LGBT people from at least 30 countries, academics and policy leaders to discuss how best to promote and protect the rights of LGBT people regionally and around the world.
“Being LGBT in Asia” will produce a total of eight country reports as well as a regional report.