BANGKOK, Friday 8 December 2017: In the lead up to this Sunday’s International Human Rights Day (10 December), APCOM has used the platform of the 7th ILGA Asia Conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to underscore the vital link between human rights and good health outcomes for LGBTI people and people affected by HIV.
The 7th biennial conference of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association in Asia (ILGA Asia), which finished today in the Cambodian capital, attracted over 300 delegates from throughout Asia who discussed a diverse range of issues affecting LGBTI people and communities across the region. Asia Pacific HIV and LGBTI community network APCOM had a strong presence at the week-long event, co-presenting several sessions and events on a variety of topics including improving advocacy for and reducing violence against LGBTI people.
APCOM Executive Director Midnight Poonkasetwattana says basic human rights underpin any successful approach to public health, and the alarming escalation of the HIV epidemic in Asia among men who have sex with men (MSM) will continue to worsen if governments and other authorities across the region continue to practice violence, discrimination and exclusion against these vulnerable communities.
“Many LGBT people across our region live in fear of violence, abuse, harassment or exclusion, which can mean they don’t access the health services they need to look after themselves and their partners. This means that health issues such as HIV don’t get addressed as effectively as they should, which makes the impact of the epidemic even worse. Violence and discrimination also impact on the mental health of many LGBT people, some of whom then use alcohol and drugs as coping mechanisms which can lead to more physical and mental health issues.”
“The denial of basic human rights is one of the biggest barriers to good health for LGBTI people in our region, people who, like everyone else, are simply seeking to create happy lives for themselves, their families and their community. On International Human Rights Day, it is important that we work together to help ensure that LGBTI people across Asia and throughout the world are afforded the legal rights and health services to which they are entitled as citizens, as well as the compassion and dignity to which they are entitled as human beings.”
Ly Pisey, Executive Director of Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), the host of the conference, added “All week at the ILGA Asia conference, community activists have highlighted numerous examples of the gross violations of human rights and civil liberties which millions of LGBTI people in countries throughout Asia endure every day simply as a consequence of to whom they express love and affection, or how they express their identity. While the situation in Cambodia is not as dangerous as some nearby countries there are still many areas that we need to work on to have equal rights as other Cambodian citizens. The conference has been a great platform to highlight issues of LGBTI in Cambodia as well.”
The sessions co-presented by APCOM at the 7th ILGA Asia Conference included one at the Australian Embassy in Phnom Penh on the lived experience of LGBTI people in Cambodia which was co-hosted with the Embassy. Speakers from various local LGBTI advocacy and support groups participated in the event including Len from CamASEAN, Madam Mom from Bandanh Chaktomok (BC), and Sokdom from Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK). Issues discussed included addressing LGBTI-related discrimination and exclusion through legal and legislative advocacy as well as education in schools, and the need for local LGBTI community groups to collaborate more effectively.
Another session co-presented by APCOM focused on addressing the increase in violence and exclusion experienced by many LGBTI people during natural disasters and humanitarian crises in partnership with IPPF, UN Women, and Edge Effect. Participants discussed how emergency service providers can be supported to make their services more inclusive of the needs of LGBTI people.
APCOM, a member of ILGA Asia, also pitched to co-host the 8th ILGA Asia 2019 Conference in Bangkok, Thailand. Other potential host cities include Seoul, South Korea and Yangon, Myanmar. The successful bid will be announced in the near future.
Senior Communications and Partnerships Manager
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