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Forum explores rights to sexual orientation and gender identity in Asia

Jessica-Anne Lyons

Tue May 07 2013

Forum: ‘A historic shift’ – Human Rights, Sexuality and Religion

A FORUM will be held later this month looking into the challenges faced by the LGBT community in Asia, with a focus on Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. Jessica-Anne Lyons reports. 

THE issue of human rights in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity in Asia will be discussed at a forum held at RMIT University’s Storey Hall on May 28.

Entitled ‘A historic shift’, the event is a nod to a video address by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to the Human Rights Council Meeting on Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in March last year.

In his address, Mr Ban cited a report by THE UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which documented “disturbing abuses in all regions”.

He noted a “widespread bias at jobs, schools and hospitals” and violent attacks including sexual assault,  as well as people who have been imprisoned, tortured or even killed because of their sexual orientation.

But “a historic shift is underway”, he said, as more states were beginning to see the gravity of the problem.

Budi Sudarto, convenor of social support network for gay Asian men Gay Asian Proud. Mr Sudarto, who grew up in Indonesia, is out to his family and is Muslim, will be offering his perspectives on Indonesia. Photo: Wan Shing Lang

The forum’s host, RMIT Global Studies lecturer and author of the book Policing Sexuality, said the forum will explore the tensions created by religion, culture and politics, and countries in the spotlight include Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

“The context of each country is different, with different dynamics at work,” Dr Lee said.

“However, minds can change,” he said.

“When one understands the difficulties that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) persons experience in everyday areas of life… [You] want things to change for the better.”

Dr Lee will be joined by expert panelists Adjunct Professor Ian Howie, Sonia Randhawa, Walter Robles and Budi Sudarto who will provide insights to the issues relating to the UN, Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia respectively.

Related story: Budi Sudarto – Gay, Asian, Proud

‘A historic shift’: Human Rights, Sexuality and Religion will be held on Thursday May 28 from 6.30pm to 8pm at Storey Hall basement lecture theatre (Building 16, Level 1, Room 1), 342 Swanston St, Melbourne. The event is free. For more information about the event as well as the speakers, visit the RMIT Events website

If you would like more information on sexual orientation and gender identity you can visit: