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ASEAN SOGIE Caucus expresses solidarity with LGBTQ people in pro-democracy movements

The ASEAN SOGIE Caucus issued a statement today (26 October), signed by 72 organizations and 152 individuals in 19 countries, calling for ASEAN governments, especially the Thai and Indonesian governments, to stop the violence and listen to the people. 

We, the undersigned organizations, express our deep solidarity with our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and gender-diverse/non-binary (LGBTIQ+) siblings around the region who are at the forefront of movements seeking to uphold human rights and democratic values. We affirm that LGBTIQ+ rights and inclusion will only flourish in democratic societies where meaningful participation, dissent, and checks and balances are respected and guaranteed.

We have been closely monitoring the on-going pro-democracy rallies in Thailand. Our heartwarming rainbow and 3 fingers salute  to the inspiring LGBTIQ+ activists, especially children and young people, who are challenging the rule of Prime Minister and dictator, Prayuth Chan-ocha, demanding the PM’s resignation, abolishing the pro-military constitution, and ending the state violence against the citizens. Despite facing the risk of committing violations of “lese majeste” laws, which outlaw criticism, defaming, or even questioning the royal family, we are amazed by their courage to boldly call for reforms in the monarchy, upholding the people’s sovereignty.  And despite the enactment of the Emergency Decree , which resulted in massive arrests of human rights defenders, violent dispersal of the public assemblies, shutting down independent media covering the demonstrations, and criminalizing on-line expressions of dissent, we are amazed by the unrelentless creativity and courage to continue the protests.

We have been monitoring the on-going protests in Indonesia as a result of the passage of the Omnibus Law on Job Creation. This law essentially amends more than 70 laws in Indonesia that were not meant to safeguard public interests. With the new Omnibus Law, the government favors business and corporate interests in the name of making Indonesian economy competitive. The law has serious repercussions on labor rights and suppress labor union roles. The Omnibus Law has ill-effects on environmental protections. It weakens land tenure of indigenous peoples and their control over customary forests thereby contradicting Indonesia’s constitutional guarantees. Our bold rainbow salute to the Indonesian LGBTIQ+ activists who braved to join the people’s struggle and taking the streets, faced health risks during the Covid 19 crisis, in order to hold the Indonesian government accountable. 

By issuing this statement, we, LGBTIQ+ activists express solidarity with all who are defending and standing up for democracy in this region. We also remind governments in ASEAN that we are a force to contend with. It is the spirit of solidarity that binds us together in our struggles against state violence and injustice across the region. We are not alone in this fight. Collectively, we demand ASEAN states particularly the Thailand and Indonesian governments to stop the violence, police brutality and listen to the people's struggles that are advocating for human rights, justice and democracy.