Articles Tagged ‘asia - Sayoni’

Islamic Body in Malaysia Bans Lesbian Sex

This news article is taken from here.

KUALA LUMPUR – ONE of Malaysia’s highest Islamic bodies has banned females from dressing or behaving like men and engaging in lesbian sex, saying it was forbidden by the religion.

The National Fatwa Council on Thursday issued its ruling following a two-day meeting that discussed recent cases of young women apparently behaving like men and exhibiting homosexual tendencies, state news agency Bernama reported.

Council chairman Abdul Shukor Husin told Bernama many young women admired the way men dress, behave and socialise, violating human nature and denying their femininity.

‘It is unacceptable to see women who love the male lifestyle including dressing in the clothes men wear,’ Mr Abdul Shukor was quoted as saying.

‘(Masculine behaviour) becomes clearer when they start to have sex with someone of the same gender, that is woman and woman,’ he said.

‘In view of this, the National Fatwa Council which met today have decided and taken the stand that such acts are forbidden and banned,’ he said.

AWARE Roundtable on SOGI Issues

AWAREposted a good overview of recent changes in the Asian LGBT landscape over the past few months. It included some info from a roundtable discussion held on Aug 16 where Sayoni's Jean Chong and Kelly Then spoke.

Here are some relevant parts, but I recommend reading the entire post.

From Beyond 377A:

Pressure from prevailing social attitudes are not countered by any significant State support. While there is no data for Singapore, the worldwide rates of depression, substance abuse and suicide are higher for LGBT youths; they are often teased and bullied in school because of their perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. There is no information on safe sex for gay teens in the current sex education syllabus, and no state-sponsored institutions that have expertise in providing counselling for those grappling with LGBT issues.

Jean also mentioned that a study that has shown that many gay people go back into the closet when they grow old, because old folks’ homes are not open to the idea of same-sex relationships.

In the absence of decriminalization and State recognition, it is therefore crucial to include LGBT perspectives in areas such as research, advocacy, and social services, said Kelly. These include the Convention On The Elimination Of All Forms Of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), sex education, maternal and paternal leave, violence in relationships, singles, de facto relationships (where couples may cohabit for extended periods but not marry), ageing, poverty, and sexual harassment – all issues that impact the LGBT community.

How do you think our invisibility in the state mechanism affects you personally?

Breaking News: Indian High Court has decriminalised gay sex

Just today, the High Court of India ruled that s377 of the Indian Penal Code did not include consensual homosexual sex. This breakthrough comes after three years of litigation that commenced in 2006, by an interest group known as Naz Foundation sought a declaration that the law was discriminatory towards homosexuals. The decision is expected to be appealed. We will be reporting further on this development, and presenting an analysis of the judgment once it has been published.

Originally Reported by Reuters.

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – An Indian court Thursday ruled gay sex was not a crime, a verdict that will bolster demands by gay and health groups that the government scrap a British colonial law which bans homosexual sex.

In a country where public hugging and kissing even among heterosexuals invites lewd remarks and sometimes beatings, gay sex has been a taboo, leaving the government unsure how conservative Indians would react if the law was repealed.

The Delhi High Court’s ruling that homosexual sex among consenting adults is not a crime is expected to boost an increasingly vocal pro-gay lobby in India that says the British-era law was a violation of human rights.

NST Article: Why do you want to hurt me?

The New Straits Times Online carries an article “Why do you want to hurt me?”discussing homophobia in Malaysia. We are happy that this issue is being openly addressed in our sister country, particularly in the light of it being an Islamic country (according to its leaders, though not officially), and in the light of official homophobic positions (Anwar being prosecuted for sodomy, and official fatwas against the community)

Sayoni is proud of Anj Ho who gave the talk on homophobia in the Seksualiti Merdeka conference in August 2008. You can read more about what she shared on homophobia in the article.

Sayoni at 2015 ILGA-Asia Conference

sayoni at ilga-asia conference

Several Sayoni volunteers attended the 2015 ILGA-Asia regional conference held in Taipei, Taiwan, from 28-30 October this year. Besides learning from other Asian activists at the formal sessions, we also took the opportunity to share strategies and ideas in informal settings. This year's conference coincided with Taipei's 2015 Pride Parade, the largest pride march in the region.

It was the first time that this lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) conference was held in Taiwan. Co-organised by the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association, the conference saw 300 activists from 30 countries, including Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Malaysia and Singapore. Over a period of three days, activists held talks and workshops about the work they were doing within their organisations and regionally.

Sayoni at ILGA-Asia Conference 2019

ilga asia conference 2019 1

On 19th to 23rd August 2019, Sayoni attended the ILGA Asia Regional Conference held in Seoul, South Korea. This year, the conference focused on the theme of "Building Alliances to Strengthen the Community", which saw over 300 participants from 30 countries, including Lebanon, China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. It was the first time I attended a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) conference, and it was undoubtedly an inspiring and exciting experience.

ilga asia conference 2019 2
On the first day, the first ever lesbian pre-conference at ILGA Asia was held. It served as a safe space to address the multiple and intersecting human rights challenges lesbians face. I shared about the violence and discrimination faced by LBTQ women in Singapore with fellow participants, and it comes as no surprise that similar issues are pervasive and pertinent in most countries around the region. In many Asian countries, patriarchal constructions of the family and gender roles contribute to the oppression of LBTQ women in both public and private spheres. Given the lack of space and representation for lesbians in both the LGBTIQ and feminist movements, it was a heartening experience to build solidarity and learn from fellow lesbian activists. 

ilga asia conference 2019 3

The second day also saw another first -- the first youth pre-conference at ILGA Asia, organized by Youth Voices Count, a LGBTIQ youth-led network for the Asia Pacific region. On top of the stigma and discrimination young persons face for being LGBTIQ, youths are also vulnerable to specific forms of social, financial and political disadvantage, which impacts their life chances, especially during their formative years. This calls for the need to be more youth-inclusive, since advocacy spaces often lack youth representation. During the youth pre-conference, I spoke on a panel, "Building the LGBTIQ Youth Movement in Asia", where I shared about the work Sayoni, in collaboration with The Bi+ Collective Singapore, has done on documenting the experiences of LGBTIQ youths through our report for the UN Convention on Rights of the Child.

ilga asia conference 2019 4
During the main conference, I was also on a panel discussion, moderated by Jean from Sayoni and Outright International, regarding "Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence against LGBT Persons in Asia". Besides sharing about the issues faced in Singapore, such as the gaps in reporting and protection against domestic violence for LBTQ persons, it was also a great opportunity for me to learn from the other panelists working in the Philippines, China, and Taiwan, which gave me many insights to reflect on.

Working on LGBTIQ activism in Singapore can feel like an immense struggle most of the time, given the challenges, restrictions and disappointments we face. But attending the ILGA Asia Regional Conference reminded me that we aren't alone and isolated; it is a struggle that goes beyond our nation's borders. Although LGBTIQ rights have improved in Asian countries over the recent years, such as decriminalization of homosexuality in India and legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan, many of our communities continue to face widespread discrimination and persecution. ILGA Asia provided a much-needed space for LGBTIQ activists in Asia to strengthen solidarity and continue the fight for a united and resilient regional movement.

Seksualiti Merdeka: Stop inciting hatred against us! We are citizens of Malaysia


Press Statement by the Organisers of Seksualiti Merdeka 2011


Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Date: 5 November 2011


We are saddened that many Malaysians, including people’s elected representatives, have seen fit to relentlessly persecute, stigmatise and discriminate all those who have found a safe space to dialogue and share information and knowledge on human rights during Seksualiti Merdeka’s events.


We are Malaysian citizens who are being denied our rights to our identity and self-determination. The false allegations and ill-intended remarks made to incite hate towards us are completely unjustified. They have further marginalized a group of Malaysians that have long suffered severe marginalization in society. As a United Nations Human Rights Council member, the Malaysian government should be ashamed for endorsing and encouraging such intimidation and scare tactics.


Silent Protest at EEAS Human Rights Seminar

And this is what happened at the actual event, a day after the civil society statement. Thio Li-Ann, law professor and anti-gay rights crusader, was there to speak on the topic of international human rights law.



Activists stood in front of the stage with their placards and taped-up mouths, while two others positioned themselves with a rainbow flag in Thio's line of sight. Notably, they kept their silence, and their protest carried on alongside Thio's speech.


Spotting Gay Symptoms in Malaysia?

Word of a parenting guide launched in Penang spread quickly on the blogosphere this week. It was apparently unveiled during a seminar that Malaysian Deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi attended.

From Free Malaysia Today:

The guide listed four symptoms each for gays and lesbians:

For gays:

  • Muscular body and a fondness for showing off the body by wearing clothing, such as by wearing V-necks and sleeveless tops
  • A preference for tight and bright coloured clothes
  • An inclination to be attracted to men
  • A tendency to carry big handbags, similar to the kinds used by women

For lesbians:

  • Showing attraction to women
  • Distancing themselves from women other than their girlfriends
  • A preference for hanging out, sleeping and dining with women
  • Absence of feelings for men

Statement of the Asian LBTQ Caucus – 8 December 2017 – Phnom Penh

asian lbtq caucus statement

Sayoni was pleased to announce the successful Asian LBTQ Caucus consultation on 8 December 2017 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Along with ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, Justice for Sisters, UN Women Asia Pacific, we facilitated a 2 day session on lesbian, bisexual and queer women’s issues from 4-5 December 2017, ahead of the ILGA Asia 2017 conference.


An estimated 60 participants joined in the discussions, personal story sharing, queer movement history mappings, and the distillation of key issues and concerns for lesbian, bisexual, trans women, trans men and queer (LBTQ) persons. Activists came from across Asia, including from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Lebanon, Nepal, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The LBTQ Caucus was a first of its kind in Asia and took place due to the demands of LBTQ activists to address the consistent marginalization of LBQ women’s visibility and leadership within the wider movements for LGBTIQ+ human rights.


A collaborative statement was written to highlight core concerns and eleven recommendations on how to move forward towards strengthening movements for LBTQ rights across the region.


Statement of the Asian LBTQ CAUCUS*


8 December 2017 | Phnom Penh, Cambodia


Lesbian, bisexual, trans women, trans men, and queer persons (LBTQ) exist in all of human diversity. Our issues and concerns cut across diverse groups and communities, including other marginalized groups such as people with disabilities, refugees, migrant workers, and indigenous peoples.


LBTQ persons experience multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence in multiple spaces based on our assigned, actual, or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). We face arbitrary persecution, socio-economic marginalization, and violation of our self-determination, sexual autonomy, and bodily integrity because of our SOGIESC. Our experiences are often invisible, silenced, and unaddressed.


Vietnam's Gay Marriage Debate and a Pride Parade

In the past few weeks, there's been a good buzz coming from Vietnam. The Associated Press reported on the Justice Ministry's proposal on same-sex couples, and the Justice Minister said some very reasonable words that show a respect for LGBT rights that have never come from our local Singapore ministers.

Even longtime gay rights activists are stunned by the Justice Ministry's proposal to include same-sex couples in its overhaul of the country's marriage law. No one knows what form it will take or whether it will survive long enough to be debated before the National Assembly next year, but supporters say the fact that it's even being considered is a victory in a region where simply being gay can result in jail sentences or whippings.

"It's time for us to look at the reality," Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong said last week in an online chat broadcast on national TV and radio. "The number of homosexuals has mounted to hundreds of thousands. It's not a small figure.... They may own property. We, of course, have to handle these issues legally."

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