COVID-19: Petition Statement of Support for LGBTQI communities in Asia Pacific to WHO

By August 31, 2020 October 5th, 2020 Advocacy, Policies, Regional

Food package distribution at Bangkok’s Khlong Lord area by #CoronaAPCOMpassion.

#CoronaAPCOMpassion is an emergency mechanism created by the APCOM to provide support to communities affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

Sign up for an online open letter calling WHO to the support LGBTQI communities

“Integrating a SOGIESC framework will contribute to our collective goal of addressing impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations and take us closer towards the goal of ‘leaving no one behind’ as envisioned by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”

Join twenty civil society organizations in Asia Pacific—such as APCOM, Asia Pacific Transgender Network, Pink Alliance, ILGA Asia, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, Youth Voices Count — to sign on the open letter to WHO’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, urging WHO to include aspects of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) into their policies, programs and WHO’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

See the letter here:

APCOM and SWING staff in Bangkok’s Red Light district ready to distribute food packages supported by #CoronaAPCOMpassion.
#CoronaAPCOMpassion is an emergency mechanism created by the APCOM to provide support to communities affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

The petition statement of support addresses how the pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the discrimination and lack of legal protections faced by LGBTQI people, communities and their families which expresses concern.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic affects the general population, it disproportionately affects vulnerable sectors, including LGBTQI communities due to SOGIESC-related stigma and discrimination,” the petition commences.

#CoronaAPCOMpassion supporting Dareecha Male Health Society in Islamabad, Pakistan and Gaya Dewata in Bali, Indonesia.
#CoronaAPCOMpassion is an emergency mechanism created by the APCOM to provide support to communities affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

In relation to the LGBTQI communities, criminal laws add to the vulnerability of LGBTQI because of police abuse and arbitrary arrest and detention in relation to the restriction of movement (ROM). Also, LGBTQI people who are required to stay at home experience prolonged exposure to unaccepting family members, and this exacerbates rates of domestic violence and physical and emotional abuse. Without a doubt, this affects their physical and mental health.

Furthermore, a guidance document by the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) stated that the existing stigma and discrimination based on SOGIESC while seeking health services—laws which criminalize same-sex relationships and those which target transgender and gender diverse persons due to their gender identities and expression— can elevate the risk for LGBTI people from COVID-19.

APCOM staff Bright (left, Campaign Officer) and A (right, Operations and Programmes Support Officer) helping SWING to distribute food packages supported by #CoronaAPCOMpassion.
#CoronaAPCOMpassion is an emergency mechanism created by the APCOM to provide support to communities affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

It also highlighted the possibility of interruption and deprioritization of health services in the context of overload on healthcare systems as a result of COVID-19.2

These scenarios, together with present and possible effects of COVID-19 on LGBTQI people and communities, have been identified in various surveys conducted by organizations working on LGBTQI rights and health issues.

“Organizations and communities were concerned about the effects of COVID-19 on the delivery of health services, including HIV-related services,” a survey conducted by APCOM,3 reads. Not only an increase in stigma and discrimination, but now also access to mental health services by service users of the LGBTQI community have become a rising issue as a result of the pandemic.

APCOM staff Wa (Finance Officer) helping SWING staff pack essentials into the #CoronaAPCOMpassion brown bag ready for distribution.
#CoronaAPCOMpassion is an emergency mechanism created by the APCOM to provide support to communities affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter of support for LGBTQI communities in Asia Pacific is therefore specifically calling for a closer cooperation with LGBTQI organizations and communities, where “challenges faced by LGBTQI, MSM and people and communities of diverse SOGIESC during the COVID-19 pandemic will be given due attention; and policies, programs, and responses are inclusive and do not add to the exclusion and discrimination experienced by LGBTQI people, communities and families,” the petition continues.

Furthermore, it expresses desirably for WHO to integrate a SOGIESC-inclusive approach in their COVID-19 related response and briefs strategies as civil society organisations strongly acknowledge the wealth of knowledge that LGBTQI communities and organizations bring, which can be an essential tool for crafting inclusive responses to the pandemic.

If you wish to sign on the letter please send an email to Mei – [email protected] stating your full name, position, organisation, territory

APCOM staff Jam (left, Admin and Finance Assistant), Nont (middle, SOGIESC rights Assistant), and PK (right, Media Assistant) distributing SWING food packages for sex worker with the support from #CoronaAPCOMpassion.
#CoronaAPCOMpassion is an emergency mechanism created by the APCOM to provide support to communities affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

APCOM wishes to thank you the following organisations for starting the open letter:

  • Midnight Poonkasetwattana, Executive Director APCOM, Asia Pacific
  • Ryan Silverio, Regional Coordinator ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, Southeast Asia
  • Joe Wong, Executive Director, Asia Pacific Transgender Network, Asia and the Pacific
  • Shale Ahmed, Executive Director, Bandhu Social Welfare Society Bangladesh
  • Manisha Dhakal, Executive Director, Blue Diamond Society, Nepal
  • Esan Regmi, Executive Director, Campaign for Change Nepal
  • Rima Athar, Coordinator, Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies, Asia and North Africa
  • Lieu Anh Vu, Executive Director, ILGA Asia, Asia
  • Ishita Dutta, Program Manager, International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, Asia Pacific
  • Prashant Singh, Coordinator, Intersex Asia, Asia
  • Gopi Shankar Madurai, Coordinator Intersex India Forum Srishti Madurai LGBTQIA Student Volunteer Movement, India
  • Jeff Cagandahan, Officer in Charge, Intersex Philippines, Philippines
  • Hiker Chiu, Founder OII Chinese, Taiwan
  • Isabelita B. Solamo, Executive Director, PILIPINA Legal Resources Center, Philippines
  • Jerome Yau, Chief Executive, Pink Alliance, Hong Kong
  • Evelynne Gomez, Program Officer, The Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW), Asia Pacific
  • Rafiul Alom Rahman, Founder, The Queer Muslim Project, India
  • Tahir Khilji, Board Member, VISION, Pakistan
  • Naila Awwad, General Director, Women Against Violence, Palestine
  • Justin Francis Bionat, Executive Director, Youth Voices Count, Inc., Asia Pacific

Updated list on: 31 August 2020

  • Joleen Brown Mataele, Executive Director, Tonga Leitis Association 
  • Dr. Ruben F del Prado, Managing Director Dek’ati International NV, Suriname
  • Jason Caballero Encabo, @youRHotline provider, The Family Planning Organization of the Philippines, Philippines
  • Sushil Mohanty, Asia
  • Joel Simpson, Managing Director, SASOD Guyana
  • Thura Aung, Executive Director, Radanar Ayar Association, Myanmar, Asia Pacific
  • Aurélien Beaucamp, Président de Aides, France
  • Dr. Dhritiman Das, Assam State, India
  • Paul Causey, Co-Moderator (volunteer), MSM Asia Google Group, Asia Pacific
  • Kiritkumar Nayak, President of shakhya foundation, Gandhinagar Gujarat India

Updated list on: 1 September 2020

  • Luong The Huy, Director, iSEE Institute, Vietnam
  • Tamara Adrian, MP, National Assembly, Venezuela
  • Tuisina Ymania Brown, Founder / Executive Director – Pacific Human Rights Initiative, Samoa, Pacific
  • Bridget Haire, researcher, Kirby Institute, Australia
  • Darryl O’Donnell, CEO, Australian Federation of AIDSbOrganisations, Australia
  • Professor Baden Offord, Director, Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University Australia
  • Leow Yangfa, Executive Director, Oogachaga, Singapore
  • Saman Kumara, Executive Director  Heart to Heart organization, Sri Lanka
  • Hla Myat Tun, Deputy Director, Colors Rainbow, Myanmar
  • Santana Ram, Executive Director and Treasurer, Koshish, Kolkata (West Bengal, India)
  • Lal Mohiddin Baig, Project Manager, The Humsaath Trust Goa, Goa, India
  • Arumugam Sankar, Executive Director, Empower India, India
  • Saw Zin Maung Soe, Chairperson, CAN-Myanmar and PFLAG-Myanmar, Myanmar
  • Klaus Jetz, Executive Director, Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany LSVD, Germany
  • Reverend Jide Macaulay, Founder & CEO, House Of Rainbow, Nigeria
  • Alvaro Bermejo, Director General, International Planned Parenthood Federation, UK London
  • Toni Kruger-Ayebazibwe, Executive Director, The Global Interfaith Network For People of All Sexes, Sexual Orientations, Gender Identities and Expressions, global
  • Desiree Haman, National Coordinator, Khaibasen Namibia, Windhoek Namibia
  • André du Plessis, Executive Director, ILGA World, Global

Updated list on: 02 September 2020

  • Ali Raza Khan, Coordinator, Wasaib Sanwaro, Pakistan
  • Simon Ruth, Chief Executive Officer, Thorne Harbour Health, Australia.
  • Muhammad Bux, Executive Director, Sukaar Welfare Organization, Sindh, Pakistan
  • Tomoko Fukuda, Regional Director, International Planned Parenthood Federation  – East and South East Asia and Oceania Region (ESEAOR), South East Asia and Western Pacific
  • David Rabuor, CIL, Kenya, Africa
  • Kristine Yakhama, Coordinator, Good Health Community Programmes, Kenya
  • Michael Kirby, Former Member of the WHO Global Commission on AIDS (1988-93); Former Member of the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights (2004-2019); Patron of APCOM (2018-present)
  • Alexandra Johns, Executive Director, Asia Pacific Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Thailand
  • Anupam Hazra, Associate Director – Programmes, Solidarity and Action Against The HIV Infection in India (SAATHII), India
  • Sonal Mehta, Regional Director, IPPF South Asia Regional Office
  • Ryan J Figueiredo, Executive Director, Equal Asia Foundation
  • Noor Sultan, Executive Director, Bedayaa Organization, North Africa

Updated list on: 03 September 2020

  • Sangeet Kayastha, Coordinator & Co-Founder, Y-PEER Asia Pacific Center Bangkok, International (Asia Pacific, ASRO, ECCA, MENA)
  • Queer Youth Group, Lalitpur, Nepal
  • Mitch Yusof, Executive Director, SEED Malaysia, Malaysia

Updated list on: 04 September 2020

  • Broden Giambrone, Director, International Trans Fund (ITF), global
  • Awnu Shrestha, Working Group in Disabilities and 2030 Agenda (WGD2030), South Asia

Updated list on: 05 September 2020

  • AR Con, Founder, Pioneer Filipino Transgender men Movement, Philippines

Updated list on: 07 September 2020

  • Wangda Dorji, Executive Director, Lhak-Sam (BNP+), Thimphu, Bhutan

Updated list on: 11 September 2020 

  • Makiko Terahara, Executive Director, Marriage for All Japan (MFAJ), Japan

Updated list on: 17 September 2020

  • Anas Gilgamesh, LGBTQ rights activist, Gay Of Iraq, Iraq

[1] COVID-19: The suffering and resilience of LGBT persons must be visible and inform the actions of States. Statement by human rights experts on the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHO).
Accessed from:

[2] COVID-19 and the human rights of LGBTI people. UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights.
Accessed from:

[3] The COVID-19 Effects Series, APCOM.
Accessed from: series-part-1/

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