Monday, April 15, 2013

Meet Gloria, ILGA’s Co-Secretary General

Gloria Careaga, ILGA Co-secretary General at the 5th ILGA Asia Conference in Bangkok

Interview with Gloria Careaga Pérez who is a long-time feminist, LGBTI activist and social psychologist and currently serves ILGA as Co-Secretary General.

--- Is this your first time in Bangkok?

No. This is my second time.

--- How’s your second time in Bangkok?

I am very happy to be at the ILGA-Asia conference. Unfortunately, I haven’t had any time to go out. When I was here for the first time 5-6 years ago, I got to see temples. I am very happy to see the Asia region evolving and increasing numbers of people who have come to the conference. It gives me a lot of hope and enthusiasm.

--- Gloria, you are from Mexico. You’ve been involved with LGBTI movement in Latin America and Caribbean. Can you share with us the general LGBTI situations in your region?

Latin America has been growing relatively easily because LGBTI people or behaviors are not criminalized in most of the countries in the region. Main problem is criminalization of homosexuality in Caribbean countries due to the influence of colonization by British Empire.

In some of the Latin American countries, we used to military occupancy and people had a very big fight against this totalitarian organization. People fought for democracy and human rights. These experiences brought us in the region us specific pictures, perspectives and tools that some people in other regions do not have in order for us to demand protection of human rights.

Latin American region has been proactive within ILGA. Our challenge is to maintain critical view and to remain very active within the organization.

In my view, different countries in Latin America have different situations. I mean, there are some governments that call themselves “revolutionary” or “leftist“ These countries are Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Cuba that often come together fighting against capitalism. But they haven’t really reached a clear position on LGBTI issues. We still have these countries that are not fully committed or don’t have clear political view on our rights. 

Other countries in the region are much more open and have clearer position in favor of our rights. So, that makes it easier for us to work. In my country, Mexico, we had a conservative party in the government for twelve years but it’s over now. We expect that things will become much better. I must stress though that there’s still a lot of work to be done in Latin America and Caribbean. We need to change not only the governments, laws and public policies but also sexist and patriarchal culture that remains in this region.

--- Can you tell us, LGBTI folks in Asia about how ILGA works?

Sure. I understand that it’s not clear what ILGA is that for many people. Some people might see international organizations as a funder or somebody who would support your work financially. But ILGA is not that kind of organization.

ILGA is a membership-based association consists of more than 1000 organizations from all over the world. We are very proud of that. We are a big umbrella under which we all work together to work for the protection of our rights and to exchange among us experiences, strategies and needs to define plan of actions.

ILGA has been organized in six different regions and these different regions send two representatives to the world board. Besides regional representatives, Women’s Secretariat, Trans Secretariat, Intersex Secretariat and two Co-Secretary Generals compose the board and work to define how we are going to develop plan of actions which have been approved by the world conference which the ILGA’s general assembly held every two years.

We decided to have six different regions in ILGA because the needs and the challenges of every region are very different. Every region defines their own agendas and strategies for the protection of their rights. We are diverse not only in our sexualities and identities but also in our economic, geographic, cultural and other situations. The specificities of each region bring ILGA a better-respected of the group and this really enriches the association.

--- Tell us about the workshops at this conference that interested and impressed you.

For me, it was very interesting to be in the discussion on the plan of actions. In the workshop, I saw people who were really thinking about situations, obstacles and possibilities that ILGA can reach in next years. The workshop gave me an opportunity to understand the LGBTI situations and future in Asia. 

--- You’re leaving tonight for the regional conference in Brazil. What do you expect to happen in Brazil? (Learn about “regional conference in Brazil” at a blog post “ HYPERLINK "" Towards New SOGI Resolution at UN.”)

It’ll be an opportunity to see the UN capacities on LGBTI issues. I hope that we’ll have many government delegations that would participate deeply and are committed.

I’m afraid that a particular situation happening in Brazil, which is about the priest sitting in their Human Rights Commission, might make some noise against the meeting. I do hope our presence, activists from different countries will bring not only hope for the LGBTI work at the UN-level but also for an opportunity for Brazilians to pressure their government about the situation. 

Overall, I am enthusiastic. We’ve been very well-prepared for the meeting. We know what we are going to do. We know the situation in Brazil. I believe that we’ll make a new step in favor of our rights. 

(This interview was conducted during the 5th ILGA-Asia conference in Bangkok by Azusa Yamashita, Gay Japan News, Japan.)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Largest ever LGBTI conference in Asia elects new representatives and chooses Taiwan for next conference in 2015

ILGA Asia Board members 2013, Bangkok, Thailand 

The 5th ILGA-Asia conference with the theme "The Phoenix Rising" held March 29-31st 2013 has seen the biggest attendance ever of LGBTI activists in a conference in the region. Over 250 delegates from some 25 countries attended the event, joined by a numerous and enthusiastic team of Thai volunteers who were on rotation work-shifts throughout the three-day conference. The event was co-organised by local ILGA members Anjaree and the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand.
It was made possible thanks to funds provided by Hivos, Arcus Foundation, SIDA, Open Society Foundations, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Finland and of The Netherlands, and facilitated by ILGA’s world secretariat.
Unlike the 3rd Conference held in Chiangmai in 2008, which paid honoraria for a conference secretariat, this 5th ILGA-Asia conference relied mostly on local and international volunteer work as the ILGA-Asia Board decided to devote the conference budget to funding more scholars to the conference. All helped in the logistics preparation: board members, conference delegates, ILGA Co-secretary General Gloria Careaga…. 200 conference kits consisting of the program, t-shirt, lanyard, freebies like condoms and lubricants were assembled in a fancy ILGA-Asia conference bag by volunteers from Indonesia who arrived early for the conference and Thai volunteers from the Sexual Diversity Network of Thailand which joined the two host organisations in their efforts. By lunchtime of the first day of the conference, organizers ran out of conference kits and had to use the left-over conference material from the aborted Surabaya conference in 2010. Still, this was not enough and some late registrants made do with the conference program and other materials in brown envelopes.
After the opening ceremony, ILGA Co-secretaries general Renato Sabbadini and Gloria Careaga opened the first plenary on the challenges faced by ILGA as a global federation committed to supporting the creation of autonomous regional federations. They were joined by Sahran Abeysundara and Poedji Tan, ILGA-Asia Board representatives to the ILGA world board, and conference host organizers Anjana Suvarnananda from Anjaree and Mr. Kittinun Dharamadhaj from the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand. Both welcomed the participants and informed them on the situation of LGBTIQ rights in the country. Dr. Taejing Siripanich, Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, welcomed the participants.  He asured the delegates that Bangkok is a safe place for LGBTs.  He added that he will do whatever he can to support the Thai LGBTI community while he is in office.  
Participants were also given a change to listen to brief country reports on LGBTIQ situation prepared by some delegates ahead of the conference on Bahrain, Burma, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Palestine, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam. Yahia Zaidi from the Pan Africa ILGA board presented a report on work undergone by the federation in Africa. Manisha reported on the situation of trans in Nepal while Hiker Chiu focused on intersex issues throughout Asia.
The three days programme was packed with thematic workshops, trainings on UN instruments, meetings on the future of ILGA-Asia restricted to ILGA members and self-organized activities. A blogteam was set up and reported on the conference’s blog every day. ILGA-Asia regional coordinator JJ Josef was seconded in this endeavour by Ng Yi-Sheng (Singapore), Azusa Yamashita (Japan), Lana Tran (Vietnam/Thailand), Ernest J.K. Wen (Indonesia), Toni Almuna (Indonesia), Mikey Batbayar (Mongolia), Stefan Joachim (Sri Lanka). Blogteam members also took minutes and kept time in various workshops while ILGA Asia Board member Suki Mijidsuren and JJ Josef took care of media work with the help of Tao Hattirat of Anjaree Thailand.
And there was much to report! The number of abstract submissions was so great that some workshops had 6-7 presentations. There was also a record number of requests for slots for self-organized activities and the four workshops venues could not accommodate all of them. Even the conference secretariat room was taken over by the delegates!
21 thematic workshops ran in parallel in 4 separate rooms. The themes covered a wide variety of LGBTIQ issues such as discrimination and homophobia/transphobia; mental health; religion and fundamentalism; LGBT Youth; strategizing for sub-regional LGBT advocacy: Other themes included the case of the ASEAN; disaster and disaster preparedness of sexual minority communities; domestic violence; sexuality, cyberspace and security; same-sex marriage in Asia; LGBT in national education system; rights advocacy and education, women; safer sex; intersex and transmen life stories and HIV-AIDS.
Trainings on the United Nations aimed at providing participants with more practical knowledge and skills in advocacy work. A program of its own, the training focused on engaging with UN human rights mechanisms on sexual orientation and gender identity; writing shadow reports for the UN Universal periodic Review; ICCPR mechanism and Individual complaints, advocacy and security: LGBT Advocacy in Hostile Environments; and finally CEDAW mechanism and shadow reporting.
ILGA members from the region also had the opportunity to meet and discuss the constitution and a strategic plan for their regional federation, ILGA-Asia. Talks also touched on the establishment of an ILGA-Asia regional office and six tasks were outlined as priorities for its work: capacity-building of LGBTI organizations; organizing regional conferences; research, documentation and sharing/dissemination of researches; lobbying and advocacy at the regional and international level; develop information references applicable for use in the whole region; and setting up of an ILGA-Asia office which location has not been decided. Bangkok is one of the options but additional research is needed to select which city could best host this office. Factors being considered for an ILGA office include: security considerations; openness of the country to accommodate regional NGOs/CSOs, accessibility to ILGA Board members and regular members (e.g. Visa considerations and airfare costs). This strategic plan will be implemented by the ILGA-Asia Board through an operational plan. Together with the constitution, it was approved by ILGA members during the General Assembly.
ILGA members also had to decide which city would host the following conference. Votes favoured Taiwan to Cambodia which also bid to organise the next conference. Tapei will therefore host the ILGA-Asia 6th Conference in 2015.
Finally, ILGA members elected a new board: Otgonbaatar Tsedendemberel (LGBT Centre, Mongolia) representing East Asia; King Oey (Arus Pelangi, Indonesia) and Poedjiati Tan (Gaya Nusantara, Indonesia), representing Southeast Asia; Stefan Joachim (Equal Ground, Sri Lanka) and Yogita Singh (Sangini, India), for South Asia; and a representative from West Asia who asked to remain anonymous. Participants also chose two members of the newly elected board (a female and non-female representatives as per ILGA constitution) to represent the Asian region on ILGA’s world board. They are Dana Zhang (Chinese Lala Alliance, China) and Kaona Saowakun (Thailand).
Dana Zhang shared her views on her tasks as ILGA Asia Board member and representative to the ILGA World Board:
"I believe ILGA-Asia is just starting on its long and exciting journey. If you compare the current number of members of ILGA-Asia to the number of people in Asia, we are just beginning to become visible and make our presence felt. From my previous work in the LGBT movement for the past four years, I have gained many hands-on experience, especially on network building and strengthening. I am honored to be part of ILGA network to share my relevant experience in network building and institution-building, and be part of the birthing of a stronger and more effective ILGA Asia."
Kaona Saowakun also known as Toto was also elected trans representative to the ILGA-Asia Board. Toto spoke up on diversity of the trans experience. “Transgenders are not only transwomen” he said while expressing his desire to share the voices of both transwomen and transmen within ILGA. The newly elected board member of ILGA-Asia hopes to set up an ILGA Secretariat in Thailand.
In his closing speech, Renato Sabbadini, ILGA Co-secretary general thanked the outgoing ILGA Asia Board members, Sahran Abeysundara, Ashley Hsu-liang Wu, Sukhragchaa Mijidsuren, and Frank/Gina Jian gang Zhao. He rejoiced in seeing how the wounds from Surabaya in 2010 had been healed by the success of this Bangkok conference: The Phoenix has risen and soared! The Asian LGBTI movement will meet again in Taiwan for a stop on its journey!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


The workshop on HIV/AIDS started with two presentations on stigmatization.

The first presentation, based on outcomes from a Youth Camp, delivered opinions, viewpoints and conclusions about public-stigma and self-stigma. It focused more on self-stigma and raised two important questions: What is the relation between self-stigma and HIV, and what happens when self-stigma rules? It drew out the conclusion that when a gay person suffers self-stigma, he/she might lose confidence and motivation, and then let inhibitions take control. As a result, that person might become drug or alcohol addict and commit unsafe sex practices. From the attendees, there was a noticeable response that self-stigma is not the only cause that stops people from getting information about HIV/AIDS and health care.

The second part of this workshop started with a fun activity that put attendees in relaxing mood. The audience was divided into pairs, and each person in a pair took turn to give each other a massage. Then came the presentation "The Social construction of reality: The impact of stigma on gay sexuality based on a qualitative sample in Penang, Malaysia". This was withdrawn from a doctoral research with interviews of 33 respondents.

Here are three interesting points of the results:
Types of stigma that the respondents have experienced
Negative impacts of stigma on sexual identity 

Positive impacts of stigma on sexual identity 

Conclusion: Gay men can and should learn how to utilize stigmatization and not fear it. Make self-stigma become a positive force to become stronger.

The third presentation was about influencing factors of Subjective quality of Life of Youth Affected by HIV/AIDS in inner Mongolia, China. It’s too bad that some computer problem had destroyed the file; therefore the presenter had to walk the audience through the presentation by reading out loud his notes. According to the presentation, there are more and more studies on HIV infection in Mongolia. They did a research on living conditions for HIV infected people in Mongolia with 108 participants. The research drew out that several social economic factors might affect different dimensions of quality of life among PLWH. They gave the results to the government for them to use it as considerations to put some changes in the policies.

The last part of the workshop focused on HIV and MSM situation in Malaysia. According to the presentation, we knew that MSM community in Malaysia lacks of empowerment due to the high level of stigma and (cultural, religious, legislative) discrimination they experience. If the MSM community is not empowered, they will not access HIV prevention/ treatment, care and support programs. Moreover, the health care of MSM is not protected by the laws; therefore the HIV services cannot often be delivered consistently.

Lana Tran

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Interview with Renato Sabbadini, Co-Secretary-General of ILGA World

(filed by Ng Yi-Sheng)

YS: Thanks for coming to this conference. I was quite impressed that both Co-Secretaries-General of ILGA World were able to make it.

RS: At every ILGA regional meeting there should be at least one, if not both Co-Secretaries-Generals present. Asia is such a big region, and after the experience of Surabaya, we wanted to show some commitment to ILGA. But Gloria had to leave yesterday [Saturday] to go to a regional meeting in Brazil for Latin America.

YS: What’s your view of this year’s ILGA Asia Conference?

RS: Very good. The participation, the number of participants went beyond all hopes of the beginning, so this in itself is a sign of extremely strong desire for member organisations in Asia to build a strong region, to have a strong regional structure, to participate in this process, and to build capacity. I was struck by the very young age of many activists, and by their energy. So I’m very confident that ILGA Asia is on the right track of becoming in the reasonably near future, one of the strongest regions of ILGA.

YS: What’s been happening in the organisation since the ILGA World Conference in December 2012?

RS: For one, we hired a new person [Nicolette Du Plessis, South Africa] who will start work in Geneva from May 1, and that person is the new UN Program Manager for ILGA.

We felt that since ILGA recovered its consultative status with the ECOSOC Council of the UN, that having now this status we have a greater responsibility in working at the UN in facilitating activists of member organisations – for instance, travelling to Geneva, to speak in first person when there are hearings of the so-called Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

That is a process at the United Nations Human Rights Council whereby a country every four years undergoes a review of its respect of the human rights. And within that context, every organization can submit a report to a human rights council, also considering LGBTI rights, to the Human Rights Council. So when the country goes there, the council asks why did you this and not this. To facilitate that process, we have a new person.

But in general, as there are important things happening at the UN concerning us, as the approval last year of a resolution of a human rights resolution based on persecution of people based on SOGI. And we are part of that process. We’ve been providing the office of the Human Rights Commissioner with data on legislation persecuting people in various countries in the world. So as our engagement in the UN is increasing, we thought it fit to hire a special person. 

We are also looking for a new Executive Director. Our current Executive Director, Sebastian Rocca, who’s done a fabulous job over the past three years, he’s going to leave when we find a new one because he wants to begin his own research project. We are leaving on very good terms. The current director will be part of the process selecting for a new director. So we published a call for applications, which you can find on our website. It started on Mar 22 and will close on April 22. If you know of people who may be interested, fill in the application forms and send it to us. We hope to have a new director in place by the end of July or August.

And as I said also in the plenary, the task of this person is basically to work in these three directions, which are central to the development and strengthened of ILGA and its members.

The first is membership and regions. ILGA has now more than 1000 member organisations. It’s simply becoming impossible to interact in an effective manner with each member only from the grassroots. We need to have stronger regions and regional structures so that these regional structures can take care of their own members in a more effective way.

So we want in the next couple of years, three years maximum, to make sure every region, particular of the global South, meaning Latin America, meaning Asia, meaning Africa, that these regions have their own regional offices. That they are in a position of having funds of having a conference every two years and the boards are in a position to meet on a regular basis. Because if they cannot meet on a regular basis that they cannot work properly.

The second is strengthening the international lobby with the UN – and this we did with the new person – and also strengthening our annual report that we publish every May, called State-Sponsored Homophobia, which until now reports on the countries which have legislation discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. We want now to expand the report to include things not covered in the reports, including violent attacks against LGBTI people. But this needs an expansion on the research work. So it will be very likely in the next year there will be a new staff position for a researcher on these maters, who will work in close contact with these regions.

Third direction: communication. It is important that we keep on improving our website and the internal system of communication to make sure we get feedback from all our members on the various projects ILGA is developing. But also we need to improve our capacity for reaching the general public and governmental agencies in general, to increase the credibility and reliability of ILGA as the main source of information at a global level on LGBT related issues.

YS: Is there anything else you want to tell our readers?

RS: I could say, as a final word, Asia as we know is the biggest region in terms of surface population. It’s the most diverse region – you have so many ethnicities, so many different religions – that certainly the task ahead of the ILGA Asia region and the ILGA Asia Board is extremely challenging.

But on the other hand this task is very stimulating. If, as I’m sure they will, ILGA Asia (and the ILGA Asia region on its own) find the solution and the ways to combine this diversity, to adapt the fight for equality in every part of the region, according to the different style of the sub-region – then this will be a great lesson for the rest of the world in learning how to live together in diversity, how to work together by combining different backgrounds and different personal and cultural histories. And I think this is the most important lesson ILGA Asia can teach the rest of world, both in the North and in the South.

(The interview officially ended here, but then we started talking about the nature of ILGA conferences)

RS: If you don’t have a conference every two years, people don’t get the sense of belonging to the same region. An example: you have a difficulty in your city, in your country, and you launch an appeal to a member organization in your region. Of course they will support you online, they will submit a registration – but they will not feel as personally if they have not met you personally, if they don’t see a face behind that call for help.

With the new social media it’s so easy to launch an appeal, to call for signatures. And people, if it’s just a clique, people do it. But when you need real help, when you need for instance, you ask whether in your region someone has faced a similar problem as you, or someone has a resource that someone could tap into, if the person asking for help is just a name with a hashtag or a name and a Facebook page, you can say I’ll answer that later, or I don’t have the time right now.

But if it’s the name of a person with whom you’ve had an exchange with n a  workshop, in a plenary, then the degree of personal responsibility you feel is much higher. And you get that act together in that moment, and you find in that moment ways of helping out another organisation.

That’s why a conference is so important: it’s the most important part of the ILGA Life of the region. Because people see each other and they feel more committed to each other.

See you in Taipei!

(filed by Ng Yi-Sheng)

I nearly forgot to make this announcement: we’ve chosen our city! Ashley even showed some videos to celebrate the success of his pitch! 

We’ve even got a month hammered down: we want the event to coincide with coincide with Taipei Pride, so it’ll be in October 2015. Mark your calendars, gentlepersons!

Sahran also had a few words to share:

Sahran: I asked the Taiwan delegation if they get elected, if they could organize a mass wedding, which I’m sure they will because of they’re so big on marriage rights. I want to be bridesmaid for someone’s wedding!

2013 ILGA Asia Conference Has Succeeded

Photo Gallery;

"The wound from the last Surabaya 2010 unfolded conference is healed by the successful of 2013 conference." Co-Secretaries General, ILGA,
Renato Sabbadini on his closing remarks: 
The above remarks is very important for all of us from Indonesia and especially who were in Surabaya three years ago. The successful of 2013 conference in Bangkok have proved that there is a place for the rising phoenix. Congratulation every body! 

Sahran Abeysundara was looked tired, but yet he care to thank every one. 

"See you in Taipeh, Taiwan on the 6th ILGA Asia Conference." Said Poedjiati Tan.
Preparing for the party at Telephone Pub and will keep posting on this blog.

Posted by Ernest J.K. Wen

Results!!!... and surprises.

(filed by Ng Yi-Sheng)

Results are in! This is your new ILGA Board!!!

But wait! There's been new developments! One former board member pointed out that the board officially should include 8 members, and we've only elected 7! And although the initial proposal was to elect another of the transgender candidates to the board, it was noticed that the West Asian candidate had finally wandered in!

(Way too many exclamation marks. I'll try to cut down.)

So after a stump speech from [Candidate] (which was actually very incoherent, since she was so surprised at the events), we held voting for her, and we have an OFFICIAL new board.

From left to right: Poedjiati Tan aka Poedji (Indonesia, SEA female)
, King Oey (Indonesia, SEA non-female), [Candidate] (W. Asia female), Kaona Saowakun aka Toto (Thailand, Trans), Dandan Zhang aka Dana (China, E. Asia female)

, Stefan Joachim (Sri Lanka, S. Asia non-female), Otgonbaatar T. aka Otto (Mongolia, E. Asia non-female), Yoghita Singh (India, S. Asia female).

But that's not all. We held elections for the female and non-female representatives for the ILGA World board. Dandan, Yoghita and Poedji stood for the female position; King and Toto stood for the non-female position.

And the results: our female representative for the ILGA World Board is Dana (China), with Poedji (Indonesia) as the reserve.

Our male representative is Toto (Thailand), with King (Indonesia) as the reserve. 

This may be the first time a transman is on the ILGA World board. A groundbreaking election indeed!

UPDATE: The name and nationality of the West Asian female representative have been removed for security reasons.