Phnom Penh, 16 May 2018
Destination Justice is proud to launch its new report Revealing the Rainbow: The Human Rights Situation of LGBTIQ HRDs in Southeast Asia at the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) with the collaboration of Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), and the support of OHCHR-Cambodia and the Embassy of Sweden in Cambodia. The launch aims to engage government representatives in a dialogue to strengthen the social inclusiveness and the legal protection of the LGBTIQ in Cambodia, and in Southeast Asia.
Destination Justice, through our Rainbow Justice Project, aims to foster dialogue in Southeast Asia on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and sexual characteristics (SOGIESC), and to provide advocacy tools to changemakers for the promotion and protection of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community’s rights. As part of the project, we are releasing “Revealing the Rainbow” Report which analyses the human rights situation of Southeast Asia’s LGBTIQ communities and their defenders in the 11 Southeast Asian countries in the decade since the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and the Yogyakarta Principles were introduced.
It has been said that the UPR process is an “unprecedented opportunity for SOGIESC HRDs to raise human rights violations against LGBTIQ people and proactively engage with governments.” However, despite evidence of the growing visibility of LGBTIQ rights and HRDs within the UPR process, this Report identifies significant room for improvement within Southeast Asia in terms of the protection of LGBTIQ communities and their defenders.
As outlined in this Report, regional progress in this regard has been notably inconsistent. Some Southeast Asian States have indeed acted on accepted UPR recommendations. This Report describes multiple instances of States taking significant steps towards reforming their legal framework to include express protections of their LGBTIQ community and LGBTIQ HRDs, and implementing policies aimed at eliminating discriminatory practices.
At the same time, the Report also details numerous situations where States in Southeast Asia have actively limited the rights of the LGBTIQ community and LGBTIQ HRDs. Harsh laws and criminal sentences have been imposed for consensual same-sex sexual relations. Discrimination and serious abuses continue to occur. Institutions and officials have adopted positions unsupportive of LGBTIQ rights. Multiple States have also restricted the fundamental freedoms of LGBTIQ HRDs, including freedoms of assembly, expression, and association. On a regional level, therefore, LGBTIQ communities and their HRDs remain at risk overall — and with them, the future of LGBTIQ rights in Southeast Asia.
Nevertheless, causes for optimism remain. Notably, this Report shows Southeast Asia’s LGBTIQ communities becoming increasingly visible, particularly in terms of participation in the cultural life of the community, and its HRDs becoming ever more active. In addition, in all but two instances, the number of CSO submissions increased in successive UPR rounds for each Southeast Asian State. This amounts to a region-wide trend of increased — and increasingly visible — engagement on LGBTIQ rights, and by HRDs.
States also continue to engage in the UPR, and to do so in a seemingly genuine manner. This demonstrates the ongoing viability of the UPR process as an avenue for human rights advocacy and reform, at least at this stage. Accordingly, Destination Justice urges LGBTIQ communities and their HRDs, and CSOs and recommending UN Member States, to build the momentum for the UPR process as an advocacy platform, and to engage with the process more innovatively and tenaciously than ever during the third UPR cycle and beyond.
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About Destination Justice
Established since 2011, Destination Justice is a social change organisation. We are changemakers who believe that justice is key to a peaceful society — particularly a society where people can resolve their issues by resorting to independent, fair and transparent justice; a society where laws are made by the people, for them, and freely accessible to them; and furthermore, a society where everybody is equal no matter who they are, what they think, or who they love.
To achieve this, we work according to the idea that from little things big things can grow: one mind changed; one piece of information put out there; one practice improved. We set ideas in motion, we provide tools, and we take action when necessary.
Through our Rainbow Justice Project, Destination Justice aims to foster dialogue in Southeast Asia on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and sexual characteristics (SOGIESC), and to provide advocacy tools to changemakers for the promotion and protection of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) community’s rights.