Finance Inc:

Advocating for LGBTQI Inclusion in the Finance and Private Sector in Asia

In many Southeast Asian countries prevailing traditional values in the political, legislative, economic, social, cultural and family environment contributes to the legitimation of discrimination against LGBTQI people and anyone whose sexuality and/or gender is non-normative.

In 2018, APCOM launched Finance Inc., a three-year multi-country initiative, with the objective to engage financial institutions focused on international development as well as the private sector within the Asia Pacific region to be more inclusive of LGBTQI people’s rights, concerns and potential.

Finance Inc is anchored on the human rights principles of equality and nondiscrimination as expounded in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments which recognize that ‘all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’  It is also anchored on The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) principle of ‘leaving no one behind.

Finance Inc. is a three year (2018-2020) multi-country project which is being implemented with our country partner organization in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR and the Philippines.

Finance Inc. is implemented by APCOM and our country partner organizations in Cambodia (MRIF Cambodia), Indonesia (Suara Kita), Lao PDR (CHIAs), and the Philippines (Babaylanes). Finance Inc is supported by Voice Global, an initiative of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Voice Global supports projects which help the most marginalized and discriminated people in Asia and Africa with the aim of amplifying and connecting unheard voices in an effort to leave no one behind.


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The overarching long-term goal of Finance Inc. is to contribute to improved access of persons of diverse SOGIESC to economic and social services specifically health, education and financial resources and services. It also aims to contribute to increased participation of LGBTQI, communities in the conversations aimed towards inclusion.

Economic inclusion[1] of LGBTQI people and communities is aligned with APCOM’s vision of “a world where all gay men, other men who have sex with men and people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression and sex characteristics can fully participate in and achieve sustainable development in all aspects of health, rights and wellbeing”.

[1] As defined by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: The opening up of economic opportunities to under-served social groups, is integral to … sustainable market economies.  An inclusive market economy ensures that anyone, regardless of their gender, place of birth, family background, age or other circumstance, over which they have no control, has full and fair access to labour markets, finance and entrepreneurship and, more generally, economic opportunity.

To achieve its goals, the strategies and components of Finance Inc included:

  1. Partnerships Building

  2. Engaging the Asian Development Bank

  3. Capacity Strengthening of LGBTQI organizations

  4. Engaging the private sector on diversity and inclusion

  5. Pilot projects

  6. Research

Project Components

The work being done under Finance Inc., and advocate with the private sector were communicated widely through various regional and international conferences. These are also strategic venues to advocate for LGBTQI inclusion with various stakeholders, and share the project outputs to a broader audience.

Lessons learned and reflections during the project implementation of Finance Inc. will be shared with a broader range of stakeholders in the region.  This regional meeting aims to bring the conversations about LGBTQI inclusion to other organizations in the region.

Under Finance Inc, APCOM participated in various regional and international meetings and conferences, and also initiated regional discussions on diversity and inclusion.

These included:

  • A session during the World Bank Civil Society Forum last October 2018 titled ‘SOGIESC Inclusion in Regional Multi-Lateral Development Banks: Taking a leaf out of the World Bank’s Playbook’ at the Bali International Convention Center.
  • A pre-session at ILGA Word Conference (March 2019) which highlighted the importance of SDG 2030 framework, the importance of all LGBTI civil society organizations to understand and make use of international mechanisms.
  • A session titled “Integrating Rights Based Approaches in LGBTQI Advocacy: Focus on Economic and Social Rights’. At the 8th ILGA Asia Conference last August 2019.
  • Finance Inc Partners Meeting in November 2020 where a project Theory of Change and Design of Pilot projects were developed.

We realize that a lot still needs to be done and that we have embarked on a long journey.  With our partners we need to strengthen advocacy and look further into processes and procedures.  The project shows important evidence to the current barriers and opportunities for significantly advancing the economic inclusion of LGBTQI.

There is a need to scale up engagements with the private sector on LGBTQI inclusion, and ensuring that voices of LGBTQI communities are meaningfully involved in these engagements.

APCOM and our country partners are cognizant that changes especially those at the level of policies, attitudes, and behaviors take a long time.

And we are committed to this journey of contributing to the collective goal of ‘leaving no one behind.’


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