NO LONGER LEFT BEHIND – SOGIESC Asia and the Pacific Call for Action in the Humanitarian System

By July 16, 2018 Advocacy, Newsroom, Regional

We, SOGIESC activists, human rights defenders and CSOs from countries in Asia and the Pacific, have come together in solidarity at the Pride in the Humanitarian System consultation to reflect on our collective experience during humanitarian events and offer the humanitarian system insights from our lived experiences and our unique needs. We have had an opportunity to listen and engage in dialogue with marginalised voices, humanitarian actors and allies, and have developed a call to action. The following is a call upon all actors in the humanitarian ecosystem to meaningfully include and consult with our diverse community members.

Across Asia and the Pacific, there are documented cases of discrimination and heightened vulnerabilities for SOGIESC people in humanitarian responses. Discrimination during disasters and crises has been documented in Fiji, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines and Pakistan, among other countries. Punitive laws and criminalisation of SOGIESC people hinders our engagement in the humanitarian system. We urge greater collaboration and direct consultation occur between humanitarian actors and SOCIESC communities. Humanitarian actors and organisations need to prioritize and advocate for decriminalization of SOGIESC if they want to engage us.

  • SOGIESC inclusive and appropriate
  • Centered around feminist principles
  • Address our communities’ specific practical and strategic needs
  • Centered on human rights

Understanding the needs of SOGIESC people is critical to address the inequalities we experience during preparedness, response and recovery. All actors of the humanitarian system must be mutually committed, responsible, and accountable to including SOGIESC policies. It is only when we work together that we will achieve a just and equal response to humanitarian crises.

Humanitarian coordination should enable a formal, meaningful consultative engagement with SOGIESC groups/networks/families to ensure a SOGIESC and feminist lens is used in the assessment, planning, prioritization, coordination, development, implementation, and monitoring of policies and programs.

We want accountability, participation, and meaningful engagement with SOGIESC organisations and not just a tokenistic top-down approach. In other words, all humanitarian actors must develop policies and good practice guidelines together with SOGIESC communities.

The humanitarian system must deploy SOGIESC and feminist leaders; and community organizations, including but not limited to experts, in technical, advisory and decision making roles. The humanitarian system must stop its reliance on gender binary frameworks and adopt more inclusive responses in humanitarian settings.

Humanitarian responders must consult with and involve SOGIESC people that represent the diversities of our communities. Humanitarian work must acknowledge the intersectionality of each individual, validating the fact that marginalized identities are most at risk, such as those with disabilities, PLHIV, drug users, sex workers, migrant workers, prisoners, children and adolescents, the stateless, the indigenous, religious and ethnic minorities, refugees, asylum seekers, urban poor, and the elderly.

Humanitarian systems must ensure that SOGIESC people and SOGIESC issues such as sexual and reproductive health and rights, human rights, and feminist approaches are included in the gender intercluster. It is critical that the humanitarian system review and address the power relationships and patriarchy within the SOGIESC community to ensure resources and aid are distributed equitably and equally and no one is left behind in decision making.

We urge that humanitarian responses provide immediate financial support to local SOGIESC groups and prioritise those who are already working with local people affected by the crisis. Assisting community organisations financially is critical to utilise, community knowledge and resources to rapidly identify and meet the needs of their community. Furthermore, humanitarian actors must ensure that SOGIESC people are provided with income generation opportunities that are tailored to our needs and capacities to ensure our livelihoods are sustainable.

In order to understand us, humanitarian actors need to educate themselves about sex, gender, sexual, and bodily diversity. Humanitarian systems must recognize diversity exists within our communities, and must collect data on SOGIESC experiences to support their responses. Humanitarian actors must ensure that there will be a representative from each group within the SOGIESC community (or from the SOGIESC spectrum) in any decision making and consultation forum.

Needs assessments must consult with SOGIESC people of all ages, disaggregate data and explicitly address the capacities and needs of our communities. In addition to sensitisation training, it is necessary that service delivery and programmes for SOGIESC people should not rely on data collection alone, as it is not always safe to disclose information on SOGIESC. It is critical that organisations collecting data should have robust do not harm policy and practice.

Humanitarian documentation, tools, and reporting must be inclusive and adaptable to local context. All clusters and humanitarian actors in all thematic areas must be inclusive throughout the whole program cycle. Humanitarian actors must start collecting data and document best practices and strategies from groups that have already organized humanitarian responses.

We demand qualitative data to be done safely to tell our stories, because quantitative data is not enough. We suggest methods of feminist participatory research and storytelling from the SOGIESC community be incorporated to reflect the lived realities and experiences of our communities, especially from LBQ women who face multiple marginalizations.

The results of these methods must be used to formulate policy and best practice for all humanitarian thematic activities.

All humanitarian actors must take immediate action to prevent all forms of violence which rapidly increase in the aftermath of a disaster. We call on humanitarian actors to think inclusively to protect those SOGIESC particularly vulnerable to gender based violence (GBV) and sexual violence. Humanitarian organisations, institutions and national governments must review institutional, regulatory/policy and legal frameworks to ensure their responsiveness to violence regarding SOGIESC issues. Humanitarian actors must respond to the needs of the SOGIESC survivors.

Recovery, relief and rehabilitation efforts must reflect our voices and the vital leadership role we can play in shaping priorities for relief and reconstruction. At Pride in the Humanitarian System, we as SOGIESC activists collaborated with human rights defenders and CSOs from countries in Asia and the Pacific. We urge humanitarian actors to invest in our organisations, our communities, our livelihoods. We urge humanitarian actors to take the following actions:

  • Establish a SOGIESC advisor role within OCHA and other humanitarian agencies to ensure that programmes have a SOGIESC inclusive agenda.
  • Create a handbook, or a chapter within existing international human rights / humanitarian guidelines, on how to work with SOGIESC persons and include SOGIESC issues in humanitarian responses, including the relief and recovery phase.
  • Humanitarian systems must provide updated and relevant courses done in collaboration with SOGIESC community organisations, at regional, national and sub-national level to to build capacity of responders in health services, including health-education and other special health care needs of our communities.
  • Establish a fund for SOGIESC specific programmes and ensure that SOGIESC organisations have a formal role in the disbursement of those
  • Address SOGIESC specific SRHR needs for instance gender affirmative care, ART,
  • Ensure that SOGIESC communities have access to relevant, consistent and timely information to make informed
  • Engage the PiHS in the development of guidance and integrating SOGIESC in the humanitarian planning and response.
  • Recruit and capacitate SOGIESC persons as well as the private


Drafting committtee members

Yuli Rustinawati – Arus Pelangi

Usma Yakoob – Forum for Dignity Initiatives

Gillio Khaleezzi Baxter – VPride Organisation

Small Luk – Beyond the Boundary – Knowing and Concerns Intersex

Ryan Figueiredo – APCOM

Jean Chong and Ryan Silverio – ASEAN SOGIE Caucus

Marli Gutierrez – Asia Pacific Transgender Network

Lieu Anh Vu – ILGA Asia

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