Equal Eyes: Asia and the Pacific Round-Up – December

Catch up on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex news and issues around Asia and the Pacific in this latest edition of Equal Eyes.

14 December 2017

From the UN: UNAIDS, the WHO, and UNFPA collaborated with Pakistan’s National Commission of Human Rights to launch the Transgender Empowerment Association of Pakistan. Among its tasks, the association will work to improve access to health care, HIV prevention services and treatment, and to generate economic opportunities.

The UNDP’s Being LGBTI Asia launched a new report: “Legal Gender Recognition: A Multi-Country Legal and Policy Review in Asia”. Assessing Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal, the Philippines, and Thailand, the report also incorporated the voices and perspectives of local transgender people.

HIV, Health, and Wellness: Beijing LGBT Center, with support from the UNDP and the Dutch Embassy, published the first nationwide quantitative survey of Chinese transgender people, their experiences, and their access to health and education. Along with the report, the Center released a short animation with English subtitles that describes the diversity of trans people and the difficulties they face due to discrimination and fear.

From Australia, the Black Rainbow Advisory Group (BRAG) formed an action group of Aboriginal leaders to address the “alarmingly high” rate of people who identify as both Indigenous and LGBTI who self-harm or attempt suicide.

Chemsex and the dangers of high-risk sexual behavior have continued to come to public attention. Journalists from the PhilippinesAustriaSpain are some of the latest to investigate the practice of sex while on drugs. From the UK, artist Mark Prest described his experience with alcohol addiction and his frustration with recovery programs geared towards heterosexuals, despite figures that show drug use is many times higher among LGBT people than the general population.

From the World of Politics: Sri Lanka’s Deputy Solicitor General Nerin Pulle announced that the government is “committed” to reforming the law to guarantee non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and will decriminalize homosexuality.

The Politics of Union: After several days of debates, emotional speeches, and failed attempts to add conservative amendments, the Australian Parliament upheld the country’s postal survey results and voted to legalize marriage equality.

The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights and LGBTIQ people held a press conference during which they called on the government to provide legal protections for LGBTIQ families, including marriage, adoption, and gender recognition rights. In Japan, activists hope that the recognition of same-sex couples in six municipalities will encourage more cities to officially recognize LGBT couples and enable them to access public services including housing, hospital care, and property rights.

Let the Courts Decide: Indonesia’s Constitutional Court refused to criminalize same-sex relations and sex outside of marriage. The 5-to-4 ruling said it is not the Court’s role to criminalize private behaviour. In recent years, police have used anti-pornography laws to arrest people at gay events and private parties.

An Australian Family Court ruled that transgender children who have the support of their parents and doctors will no longer have to apply to the court for permission to undergo hormone therapy.

Winds of Change: From India, the New York Times spoke with LGBTI activists working to capitalize on India’s Supreme Court ruling this summer that citizens have a constitutional right to privacy and that sexual orientation is a matter of privacy. Activists hope the ruling will lead to overturning Section 377, the law that criminalizes same-sex relations. Meanwhile, the Hindu spoke with Indian transgender activists as they celebrated Chamayam 2017, a cultural festival for the transgender community.

The head of Cambodia Human Rights Committee, Keo Remy, spoke at the 7th ILGA Asia conference and urged LGBTIQ people to continue to educate their families and local communities about their rights.

Sports and Culture: On World AIDS Day, US men reflected on surviving the “gay plague”.  Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik broke a world record with his creation of the largest ever red ribbon. And the international queer artist collective Balaclava-Q released their second annual HIVideo project in 19 cities around the world.

Japan Broadcasting Corporation NHK announced it has commissioned a new TV show based on the graphic novel My Brother’s Husband about a single dad who meets his twin brother’s husband after the brother’s untimely death.


Equal Eyes is edited by Christina Dideriksen and Richard Burzynski. The views presented here do not necessarily represent the view of UNAIDS or its Cosponsors. 


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