Articles Tagged ‘civil society - Sayoni’

Advancing Our Rights in ASEAN

[Photo by Rainbow Rights Project]

Sayoni is participating in the ASEAN Civil Society Conference, or ASEAN People’s Forum, again this year – this time in Yangon, Myanmar. It’s a huge civil society gathering, larger than before, with some putting the numbers at 1800 activists from all over ASEAN.

In the words of ACSC/APF,

Every year before the ASEAN Summit, a conference known as the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum (ACSC/APF) is held independently, paralleled to the official ASEAN Summit. Myanmar’s bid for the rotating ASEAN chair was granted, so it is responsible as well to host the ASEAN People’s Forum where hundreds of civil society actors from the ASEAN region will gather to represent voices of civil societies.

This year’s theme is “Advancing ASEAN Peoples’ Solidarity towards Sustainable Peace, Development, Justice and Democratization and address issues around Peace; Justice and Human Rights; Development and Democratization; and ASEAN.”

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?

Our CEDAW journey - Oral Statement to CEDAW committee on the 18th of July




Editor's note: This is the oral statement by Sayoni, delivered by Kelly, before the UN last week. Our team has completed their duties at CEDAW, and we await their return from New York so that we can congratulate them on a job well done.


Madam Chair,

I am from Sayoni and represent women in Singapore on sexual orientation and gender identity. The State has said that there is no discrimination against homosexuals in Singapore. Our research and experience show otherwise. The most pressing issues are:

In the Law

Legislation inherited from the British criminalises sexual intercourse between men. This criminalisation sets the stage and cascades. It condones discrimination against lesbian, bisexual and transgender women, and it prevents equality of access, opportunities and outcomes for us in public policy.

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.

Sign the petition to protest discrimination in football

We would like to call on our readers to support this petition to protest the discrimination against lesbian football players: click here


FIFA: Call Out this Foul Play

Even before the Women's World Cup kicks off this Sunday, June 26, the rules have already been broken. 

For the past two years the Nigerian Football Federation has conducted a witch-hunt to kick women off the national team who were suspected of being gay. And the team's coach just bragged to the New York Times that she has dealt with “the big problem” of lesbianism. 

FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, has a powerful record of fighting discrimination. Now as Nigeria takes the field in the Women's World Cup opening game, FIFA needs to give coach Uche the red card: publicly condemn systematic discrimination and take the necessary steps to end homophobia in the league.


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.


The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission gets ECOSOC status

Sayoni supports IGLHRC, and we congratulate them for having attained this historic achievement.
republished from IGLHRC.

(July 19, 2001) On July 19, 2010, the full United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) voted in favor of a US-led resolution to grant the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) consultative status. IGLHRC is only the tenth organization working primarily for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) human rights to gain such status at the United Nations.

"Today's decision is an affirmation that the voices of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have a place at the United Nations as part of a vital civil society community," said Cary Alan Johnson, IGLHRC Executive Director. "The clear message here is that these voices should not be silenced and that human rights cannot be denied on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity."

The resolution passed with 23 in favor, 13 against, and 13 abstentions and 5 absences.

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