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LGBTI activists and allies chart roadmap for equality

Graphic: Conference participants in discussion

Ten years on from the adoption of the Yogyakarta Principles, a global conference has discussed practical steps to advance the rights of LGBTI people.

United Nations Development Programme LogoUnited Nations Development Programme
Asia Pacific Forum LogoAsia Pacific Forum

Ten years on from the adoption of a milestone document setting out the human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, a global conference has considered a range of practical steps to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

The conference, jointly hosted by the APF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), brought together more than 100 experts from national human rights institutions, LGBTI civil society organisations and UN and development partners from over 25 countries and territories.

A series of presentations and group discussions focused on the development of the Yogyakarta Principles and the way it has been used to promote and protect the human rights of LGBTI people at the global, regional and national levels.

"The Yogyakarta Principles are strategic in specifying necessary actions, such as decriminalisation of consensual same-sex relations," said Professor Emeritus Vitit Muntarbhorn, the UN Independent Expert responsible for investigating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Over the past decade, some 25 countries and territories in the Asia Pacific region, have introduced a range of protective laws and ordinances, passed supportive court judgements, and pioneered constitutional reform processes that promote the equality of LGBTI people.

However, many speakers noted the ongoing challenges and threats that many LGBTI people face, from discrimination, harassment and exclusion through to abduction, torture and killings in some parts of the world.

Speakers on a panel discussion

See the list of speakers, themes and presentations from the Conference on the Yogyakarta Principles: What have we learnt and where to now?; 25-26 April 2017; Bangkok, Thailand.

Representatives from 18 NHRIs in the Asia Pacific region took part in the conference, with many building on their participation in a recent APF-UNDP training program on human rights in relation to sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.

"Looking back 10 years ago, we could not have imagined that we would undertake the breadth and consistency of work in relation to LGBTI rights," said Pip Dargan, Deputy Director of the APF secretariat and APF Gender Focal Point.

"We now have history to guide us on just how much can be achieved in promoting and protecting the human rights of LGBTI people in the next 10 years."

The conference sought to draw on the expertise of participants by holding "workstation discussions" on gaps in the Yogyakarta Principles, as well as practical steps to implement the Yogyakarta Principles, in relation to:

  • Intersex people
  • Gender identity
  • Faith, culture and family
  • Violence and extremism
  • Legal protection
  • Legal oppression
  • Engagement with the international human rights mechanisms
  • Sustainable Development Goals

The ideas and reflections they shared provide a basis for NHRIs, civil society organisations and UN partners to build partnerships and develop programs for action in advocacy, public education, litigation and engaging with the international human rights system.

However, delivering genuine progress on the rights set out in the Yogyakarta Principles will take courage, conviction and clear thinking, said Sonia Corrêa, Co-Chair of the Expert Group on the Yogyakarta Principles.

She noted the challenges of "shrinking civil society spaces, of the continuous growth and diffusion of politicized religious dogmatism and morality, of the erosion of secularity, of increasing violations by non- state actors".

"I therefore wish us much energy, creativity but also openness to self-reflexivity in the years to come," she said.

Date: 8 May 2017

Two conference participants in discussion

Released in March 2007, the Yogyakarta Principles were developed and unanimously adopted by a distinguished group of human rights experts from diverse regions and backgrounds. They provide clear guidance on how human rights law applies to sexual orientation and gender identity and are an invaluable tool for activists, allies, governments, development agencies and human rights organisations.

Participants from our blended learning course on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics describe the serious challenges facing LGBTI people in the region and the importance of establishing partnerships to advocate for greater respect of their fundamental rights.

Image credits

  1. Conference participants in discussion - APF/James Iliffe
  2. Speakers on a panel discussion - APF/James Iliffe
  3. Two conference participants in discussion - APF/James Iliffe