Statement from Grace Poore and Jessica Stern, IGLHRC
Masculine girls, girls who love girls, feminine boys, transgender women and men all, at times, bear the brunt of prejudice and vilification by religion, media, government, and even their own families. Even in countries with visible women’s rights movements, patriarchal values dictate that all women should be controlled—especially women’s sexual autonomy. Yet, typical means of crisis support are unavailable to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. As a result, LGBT individuals and human rights defenders in Asia and the Pacific Islands may find themselves in unexpected, desperate and even life-threatening situations.
- Grace Poore, Program Coordinator, Asia and Asia Pacific Islands, IGLHRC
When the ‘Sixteen Days Campaign’ comes around, it insists that we reflect on how we’ve lived out the previous year. How many women were punished for being too independent? How many women were abused? How many lesbians, bisexual and transgender women and men were murdered for simply being themselves? As gender-based violence continues to plague communities internationally, let us say never again, and together work to make a world free from violence, not a cautious hope, but a brave reality.
-Jessica Stern, acting Executive Director, IGLHRC
November 25th marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and the launch of UN Women’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign, which calls upon everyone to take action to end violence against women and girls.
Courage Unfolds, a video documentary produced by IGLHRC staff working with activists in Asia and the Pacific Islands, is designed to draw attention to lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LBT) people’s activism and illuminate the way in which the Yogyakarta Principles—a set of principles describing how international human rights law applies to sexual orientation and gender identity—can be used to combat domestic and social violence against sexual minority women.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s Asia Program, staffed by Malaysian and Filipino activists, promotes acceptance of sexual and gender diversity at all levels of society. Nineteen Asian countries have laws criminalizing intimacy between same-sex couples. Individuals who challenge sexual or gender norms also confront non-state violence in the “private” sphere of the family; the threat of family or community rejection or recrimination often prompts people to lead double lives, making them vulnerable to police blackmail and extortion.
IGLHRC partners with local and regional groups in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America to bolster ongoing efforts to achieve equality and justice at national, regional and international levels, and to increase the visibility of Asian activists internationally. Our work includes responding in a crisis, conducting research and documenting human rights abuses, as well as pursuing structural and institutional change and lobbying at the United Nations.
Recognizing the difficulty that activists from Asia face in traveling to New York or Geneva where treaty bodies meet, we periodically lobby at the UN on their behalf. We are currently working closely with local groups in Asia to raise visibility about violence against lesbian, bisexual and transgender women at the United Nations vis-à-vis the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Human Rights Committee.