Equal Eyes on Asia and the Pacific: July

Equal Eyes on Asia is a new round-up of the latest news on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) issues in Asia.

From the UN: The UN Human Rights Committee declared that Australian legislation that prevents married trans people from changing their birth certificates to match their gender identity is in violation of international human rights law. Australian officials contend that gender changes could result in same-sex marriages, currently illegal in the country.

HIV, Health, and Wellness: In Bangkok, over 150 HIV and community health workers participated in a 3-day consultation on how to use social media to reach gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men with HIV education and information on testing and treatment.  In Australia, the Victorian AIDS Council and BeyondBlue launched ‘Digital Acceptance Learning and Empowerment’ (DALE), a new website to support men who are experiencing anxiety or depression while exploring their same-sex attraction.

The Indonesian Embassy in Washington responded to international outcry over recent raids, mass arrests of suspected homosexuals, and an announced anti-LGBT “task force” stating that it safeguards the rights of all minority groups while considering “religious and cultural values that must be upheld”.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Timor Leste released a video statement declaring his support for LGBT Timorese in which he emphasized that: “Discrimination, disrespect and abuse towards people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity does not provide any benefit to our nation.”

Fear and Loathing:From China, PFLAG volunteer Jiancheng discussed coming to terms with his own sexuality and supporting his transgender son. Jiancheng’s explained why so many LGBT Chinese feel they must remain hidden or face fear and rejection.

From Odisha, India, a new study found that most trans people do not wish to be officially identified and registered for fear of discrimination. Study lead, Professor Niraj Kumar explained that without reliable data, it is difficult to implement effective welfare programs.

Winds of Change:  Although India’s penal code was adjusted in 2009 to decriminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults, in 2013 Section 377 was reinstated in full, re-criminalizing homosexuality. Some members of the LGBTQ community that came out of the closet in 2009 have found solace through opportunities brought by increasing globalization.

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