Is Southeast Asia becoming more tolerant towards its LGBT community?
Consider these recent developments in the region: A Singaporean politician admitted on Facebook that he is gay. A Malaysian transgendered person was appointed political secretary in Penang State. Two government ministries in Vietnam and some legislators in Thailand have publicly endorsed legislation that would permit same-sex marriage if passed. And in the Philippines an LGBT political party was able to participate in the party list elections.
My first few weeks on the project coincided with Cambodia hosting the ASEAN (Association of South East Nations) Conference. This is a fledging regional body of the ten member states with three pillars: economic integration; political security and socio-cultural of the 10 member states. The conferences are also an opportunity for civil society organisations to meet and interface with heads of government. LGBT NGOs from across SE Asia attended a Civil Society Conference called the ASEAN People’s Forum in Phnom Penh.