APCOM during the IDAHOTB 2020: Bridging the LGBTI Inclusion Data Gap” virtual panel discussion hosted by the Asian Development Bank on May 20, 2020. The panel was part of a series of joint virtual IDAHOT commemoration activities by the World Bank, the ADB, and the Inter-American Development Bank. These activities are anchored on the global theme for IDAHOT 2020 ‘Breaking the silence.’
The panel focused on the present state of LGBTQI related data which could be possible take off points for future steps towards what could be done for LGBTQI inclusion and possible next steps for the Asian Development Bank and other stakeholders who are reflecting on LGBTQI inclusion.
Panelists discussed their experiences in data collection which and provided insights on how to possibly move forward in knowledge building related to the LGBTQI communities. Timo Ojanen, a sexual and gender minorities, mental health, and sexuality education expert at the Faculty of Learning Sciences and Education, Thammasat University, Thailand discussed barriers related to confidentiality, anonymity. Sarita KC, Director of Mitini Nepal working for the rights and dignity of lesbian, bisexual third gender discussed the challenges of Nepali LGBTQI community even as Nepal has officially recognized ‘third gender’ in their national census. Yiu-tung Suen, Assistant Professor of the Gender Studies Program, and Founding Director of the Sexualities Research Program, at the Chinese University of Hong Kong discussed his experience in engaging with private sector for diversity and inclusion.
The panel was facilitated by ADB Director General and Chief Compliance Officer Of the Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department Woochong Um.
Local LGBTQI organisations generating community data
APCOM shared its experience and the highlights of pilot researches it has conducted in 4 countries (Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, and the Philippines). These pilot researches are part of the Finance Inc. project which APCOM is presently implementing with partner organizations in the abovementioned countries, which is being supported by VOICE Global.
The researches surfaced that there are still experiences of discrimination and exclusion in the areas of health, work, education and access to financial services based on SOGIESC, and sometimes, this can be based on a person’s SOGIESC as perceived by others. Most basis for discrimination and exclusion are non-heteronormative gender identities and expressions, as perhaps these are the most ‘visible’.
The prevailing policy and legislative environment in the countries in relation to LGBTQI people play a role in how LGBTQI experience inclusion/exclusion. While there are no laws which criminalizes being LGBTQI, there are also no laws recognizing and protecting LGBTQI individuals. In some instances, there are local policies where being LGBTQI would merit sanctions.
In general, programs and practice environment are still non-SOGIESC inclusive. Further, while LGBTQI people experience discrimination and exclusion, these are experienced differently depending on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.
The researches were conducted by APCOM’s partner organizations Babaylanes (Philippines), Micro Rainbow International (Cambodia), Suara Kita (Indonesia), and CHIAs (formerly LaoPHA in Lao PDR).
“Partnering with LGBTQI organizations is critical to reaching populations which may be left behind and have specific vulnerabilities. This will contribute to creating safe spaces for us to tell our stories and narratives,” Ramil Andag, APCOM’s SOGIESC Rights Officer said in the webinar, she added, “‘Institutions which are reflecting on LGBTQI inclusion should work closely and meaningfully involve LGBTQI organizations and communities. These involvements should be in programs, process, policies and spaces and will contribute to breaking the silence. In knowledge building, LGBTQI organizations and communities should be able to actively participate not only as data sources but as experts in our lived experiences and should be involved in all phases: design, implementation and analysis.”
ADB Director General Woochong Um closed the virtual panel discussion on the note that the Asian Development Bank will continue to look into the examples and insights shared by the panelists and participants who attended the virtual panel. ADB will also consider how to build on the examples of data collection shared and consider how some of these can be used in the wider development and leave no one behind.
APCOM is looking forward to continue engaging the ADB in this journey.