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The ASEAN declaration – Good news or bad news?

in INDONESIA, 13/10/2012

We now know what the draft ASEAN Human Rights Declaration will say. Is it good news or bad news for LGBTI? Douglas Sanders looks at the issues. First the bad news. We are not named. In the anti-discrimination provisions there is no reference to “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” or “gender expression.” Perhaps we don’t exist. Secondly, marriage involves “men and women,” which sounds like it does not include two men or two women.

There are three important parts to this provision: (1) a general rejection of discrimination “of any kind”, (2) examples of prohibited grounds of discrimination, such as race and sex, and (3) an added catch-all category – “or other status” – to make sure that the section is not restrictively interpreted. We are included, but we are not named.

For us the ASEAN draft declaration on human rights is not a step backward. In fact it pushes the four countries (Brunei, Malaysia, Myanmar and Singapore) a bit closer to the realities of the 21st century.

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