ASEAN Human Rights Declaration Refuses to Protect LGBTIQ Rights!

Statement from the ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus

During the week of November 18, 2012 at the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) heads of state adopted the first ever ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD). To the grave disappointment of representatives of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) peoples through out the region, the declaration did not include protections for this highly vulnerable group.

Ging Cristobal, Project Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands was in Phnom Penh as a representative of IGLHRC and member of the LGBTIQ Caucus.

Many organizations and activists have issued statements criticizing the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration which are endorsed or welcomed by IGLHRC, including:

Grace Poore, Program Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands and Ging Cristobal, Project Coordinator for Asia and Pacific Islands co-wrote an article "Human Rights Compromised in Southeast Asia" that appeared in The Huffington Post.

Additionally, the ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus produced the video and statement below.

For Immediate Release:LGBT Rights in the ASEAN Logo
16 November 2012

We, the ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus are outraged and disappointed by the decision of the ASEAN Head of States to adopt the AHRD that excluded sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI). Despite countless attempts and demands by the members of civil society, including LGBTIQ groups, to push for its inclusion, ASEAN have remained reticent to the attempts. This AHRD not only shows a lack of respect to LGBTIQ people but also makes a mockery of the international human rights values and principles that all nations and citizens abide by and are held accountable to.

“Evidently, the numerous failed attempts to engage with AICHR and the recent adoption of ASEAN Declaration with no mention of SOGI, sends a clear message that the human rights of LGBTIQ people are irrelevant to them,” explained Vien Tanjung, founder of Her Lounge.

All 10-member countries of ASEAN have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which have specific provisions of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and are therefore, obliged to protect and promote the rights of LGBTIQ people in the ASEAN region.

“Malaysia is a member country of the UN Human Rights Council and Malaysia was re-elected for the second term this year. It is shocking that ASEAN with such collective expertise and knowledge on human rights; discrimination is still persistent in this region. This is evidenced by the exclusion of SOGI in the AHRD,” said Thilaga, an LGBTIQ activist.

In order for the AHRD to be a relevant and credible human rights tool that protects and benefits the ASEAN community as a whole without discrimination as it aspires to be, the declaration has to be consistent with existing international human rights laws.

Jean Chong of Sayoni from Singapore also expressed her disappointment to the exclusion of SOGI in the AHRD. “No ASEAN citizen can aspire to her/his fullest potential as a citizen in their respective country with the tunnel vision and self serving approach of their governments.”

“We encourage everyone to publicly denounce support and legitimacy of the ASEAN Declaration. The priority of this declaration is not human rights, but economic and political interests of the ASEAN states at the expense of the ASEAN peoples,” explained Ging Cristobal, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Sixty-two grassroots, national, regional, and international civil society groups, including the ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus which comprises representatives from six ASEAN countries, have joined the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navi Pillay, in a call to postpone adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration in order to make it more in line with international human rights law.


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional organization established in 1967 that comprises of countries in the South East Asia region. In 2009, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was formed to promote and protect the human rights of people in the region and was tasked to formulate the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), which aimed to standardize all human rights of all people in the Southeast region of Asia.


Ging Cristobal, IGLHRC, Philippines – / +639175570405
Srorn Srun, RoCK Cambodia - / +855092300006
Jean Chong, Sayoni, Singapore – / +6597475756 / in Cambodia +85515720997
Vien Tanjung, HerLounge, Indonesia - / +628568666101
Thilaga Sulathireh, Queer activist Malaysia - / +60176306795

(hi res) Caption: Attendees of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Workshop at the ASEAN Grassroots People's Assembly (AGPA) in Phnom Penh, November 14th.

(hi res) Caption: At the public assembly in Freedom Park! Chris from Burma with Srun Srorn reading our statement demanding inclusion of SOGI rights to much cheers from the massive rally.

See Also:

Endorsed by,

  1. Akei, Philippines
  2. Aksi for Gender, Social and Ecological Justice, Indonesia
  3. Alliance of Young Nurse Leaders & Advocates International Inc., Philippines
  4. Amnesty International Philippines
  5. Anjaree, Thailand
  6. Arus Pelangi, Indonesia
  7. Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN)
  8. B-Change Foundation, Philippines
  9. Babaylanes, Philippines
  10. Bahaghari Dasmarinas, Ekklesia Tou Theou (Church of God), Philippines
  11. CamASEAN Youth's Future group work for human rights, Cambodia
  12. Drodrolagi Movement, Fiji
  13. For Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Rights Project (For-SOGI), Thailand
  14. Forum LGBTIQ Indonesia
  15. Free Community Church, Singapore
  16. GAYa NUSANTARA, Indonesia
  17. GWLmuda - Indonesian National Coalition of Young Gay, Waria and other MSM, Indonesia
  18. Harry Benjamin Syndrome (HBS), Indonesia
  19. HerLounge, Indonesia
  20. Indignation, Singapore
  21. Indonesia for Human’s
  22. Indonesian Women's Coalition for Justice and Democration (Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia untuk Keadilan dan Demokrasi), Indonesia
  23. International Commission of Jurists
  24. International Gay Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
  25. International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ASIA
  26. iSee, Vietnam
  27. Justice for Sisters, Malaysia
  28. KANHNHA, Cambodia
  29. Knowledge and Rights with Young people through Safer Spaces (KRYSS), Malaysia
  30. Ladlad Region II, Philippines
  31. Likhaan Center For Women's Health, Philippines
  32. Lunduyan ng Sining, Philippines
  33. Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM), Malaysia
  34. Migrant Forum in Asia
  35. Oogachaga, Singapore
  36. Our Voice Indonesia
  37. People like Us, Singapore
  38. Pergerakan Indonesia
  39. Perkumpulan Equitas Indonesia (Equitas Indonesia Association), Indonesia
  40. Philwomen on ASEAN, Philippines
  41. Philippine Forum on Sports, Culture, Sexuality and Human Rights (TEAM PILIPINAS)
  42. Pink Dot, Singapore
  43. Project X, Singapore
  44. Projek Dialog, Malaysia
  45. Proud to be LGBT Campaign (PTBL)
  46. Q-Munity - Queer activism through arts and films, Indonesia
  47. Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK), Cambodia
  48. Rainbow Pilipinas Production
  49. Rainbow Rights, Project, Inc., Philippines
  50. Safe Singapore, Singapore
  51. Sayoni, Singapore
  52. Seksualiti Merdeka, Malaysia
  53. Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign, Singapore
  54. SinQSA (Singapore Queer Straight Alliance), Singapore
  55. Solidaritas Perempuan, Indonesia
  56. Sons, Singapore
  57. South East Asian Committee for Advocacy (SEACA)
  58. Southeast Asia Women's Caucus on ASEAN
  59. TLF Collective Share, Philippines
  60. Thai Transgender Alliance, Thailand
  61. The Alliance of Young Health Advocates, Philippines
  62. The Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association- ADHO, Cambodia
  63. The Lesbian Activism Project, Philiippines
  64. Think Centre, Singapore
  65. Transgender Colors, Inc. Cebu City, Philippines
  66. Women's Legal and Human Rights Bureau (WLB), Philippines
  67. Young Out Here, Singapore
  68. Youth Voices Count, Regional Network of young MSM and TG, Asia Pacific