2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference
“COMING OUT, COMING HOME”
20-23 October 2005
Thursday, 20 October 2005
Thursday, 20 October, 10.00 to 11.00 am
Tisha Ylaya and Mira Ofreneo of cebupride and Can‟t Live In the Closet (CLIC) respectively, welcomed the
delegates as the host organizations of the conference.
Anna Leah Sarabia of Women‟s Media Circle (WMC), the ILGA Women‟s Secretariat, accorded the delegates
a warm welcome, proudly proclaiming that “We are one family from Asia.” She expressed confidence that
representatives from South, North and South East Asia, despite the absence of West Asian delegates, will be
able to actively participate in the four-day event. She wished the group a very productive discussion and
thanked the host organizations, CLIC and cebupride, for making the conference possible.
Tesa De Vela of the Manila Secretariat facilitated the self-introductions by the participants. Mira Ofreneo
then presented the conference program. Tisha Ylaya then made administrative announcements.
AN ILGA-ASIA INTRODUCTION
Thursday, 20 October, 11.00 am to 1.00 pm
ILGA and Social Movements: Looking Back
Anna Leah Sarabia, Women’s Media Circle (WMC), ILGA Women’s Secretariat
Anna Leah presented a historical overview of ILGA in the context of the LGBT movement. She related that
the gay and lesbian struggle for equality began with the women‟s movement. It was during the 1975
Conference on Women held in Mexico that feminists first raised the issue of gays and lesbians at the UN
level. These women who pushed for gay and lesbian rights eventually became active in ILGA like Rebecca
Sevilla from Peru who became ILGA Secretary-General in the 1990s.
In 1978, or three (3) years after that UN Conference, the International Gay Association (IGA) was formed in
the U.K. In 1981, an information mechanism within IGA was proposed by lesbians working with IGA. This
became the International Lesbian Information Service (ILIS) that functioned as the secretariat for women.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 2
It is worth noting that important changes in ILGA were greatly influenced by many significant events in the
women‟s movement. The Nairobi Conference on Women was held in 1985 and a year later, IGA formalized
the incorporation of women by renaming the federation International Lesbian and Gay Association or ILGA.
The inclusion of women is an acknowledgement of their importance to the LGBT movement.
Anna Leah stressed that ILGA has been responsive and reflective of the struggles of the world and civil
society. In 1992, recognizing the existence of regional discrimination, ILGA officially divided into 6 regions,
namely: Europe, North America, LAC, Asia, Anzapi, and Africa. ILGA also became more inclusive of
people marginalized due to their sexual identity. In Cologne 1997, it officially addressed the issues of
bisexuals and transgenders. But it was only during the 2002 World Conference in Oakland that a transgender
forum was ever held.
ILGA works for the equality of LGBT people and the liberation of LGBTs from all forms of discrimination,
mainly gender-based discrimination. It promotes universal respect for and observance of human rights and
fundamental freedoms of LGBT people. These are all UN concerns but unfortunately, the UN has yet to
acknowledge the existence of LGBTs.
In closing, Anna Leah underscored the responsiveness of ILGA to civil society concerns especially with
regard to women. She said that it is equally important for the LGBT community and the women‟s movement
to be aware and understand each other‟s respective issues since both are advocating for gender equality and
working against gender-based discrimination.
A Genders and Sexualities Matrix: A Frame of Mind
Mira Alexis Ofreneo, Can’t Live In the Closet (CLIC), Philippines
Mira introduced a new conceptual framework that reflects the broad spectrum of sexual orientations and
identities. Before presenting the matrix, Mira defined and differentiated the concepts of sex, gender and
sexual orientation. The distinctions are significant since the concept of sexuality or sexual orientation is
closely tied and oftentimes embedded in the concepts of sex and gender.
She explained that sex refers to the biological and that individuals are traditionally classified as either male or
female. According to the matrix, taking into account the set of biological criteria, which includes the genitals,
internal reproductive systems, chromosomes, and hormones, we can conceptualize at least three (3) types of
biological sexes: male, female and transgender. Transgender pertains to intersexed, transsexual and
transgender individuals. Society, however, only acknowledges two biological sexes: male and female.
Gender, on the other hand, refers to socially determined characteristics of individuals based on their sex.
Thus, gender traditionally follows the male-female dichotomy. Given only two types of sexes, there are only
two kinds of roles and characteristics -- masculinity for males and femininity for females. However, it was
noted that sex and gender do not and should not necessarily match. That is, males can be feminine and
females can be masculine. In addition, there is a third gender – androgyny – used to describe a person that
bears both masculine and feminine traits. Since there are now three (3) types of sexes and three (3) types of
genders, there are actually nine (9) types of people classified by sex-and-gender.
At this point, Mira interposed a question: Do we keep on adding boxes or do we stop having boxes at all?
Finally, sexual orientation refers to an individual‟s romantic and sexual attraction. An individual can have a
heterosexual, bisexual, or homosexual orientation.
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The old frame of mind consists of only two (2) types of individuals: 1) a male who is masculine and
heterosexual; and 2) a female who is feminine and heterosexual. The significance of the matrix presented is
its recognition of the diversity of genders and sexualities. Considering the possible combinations under the
new framework, there are actually twenty-seven (27) types of persons – nine (9) types of males, nine (9) types
of females and nine (9) types of transgender individuals. However, only 2 types of people – the heterosexual
masculine male and the heterosexual feminine female - enjoy social acceptance. The other 25 types experience
discrimination. What do we do with the marginalized twenty-five (25) types of individuals?
Adding further confusion is the concept of sexual identity. Sexual identity is how an individual sees or
perceives one‟s self, a personal identification or labeling of an individual. It is not even part of the matrix but
how people identify themselves is actually the basis of the LGBT advocacy.
A participant from Sri Lanka commented that in their country, a man can have sex with another man and
preserve his identity as a real man if he lets the other man take a more active role in the sex act and does
not allow himself to be penetrated. It was commented that there is discrimination against such sexual
A butch gay man has higher status than a femme gay man following the standards of the straight world
that accord (masculine) men higher status than (feminine) women.
One expressed the opinion that a straight-acting butch, in a non-gay context, will not assert and expose
himself as a gay man. But in a gay context, a butch male tends to dominate the femme male.
A delegate from Davao related that manly males and/or “bisexuals” resist integration or association with
femme or openly gay males despite the latter‟s attempts to get their support.
In Indonesia, transgenders who underwent sex-change operations consider themselves “women” but are
still not legally recognized as women.
In the Philippines, two (2) male to female transgenders went to court and successfully changed their legal
identity from male to female. Unfortunately, there are bills pending in Congress which seek to prohibit
these legal changes.
Sri Lankan and Singaporean laws pose no legal obstacles to sex-change operations and gay marriages so
long as the parties involved maintain the biological sex dichotomy of male and female. For example, if
two women want to get married, this will be allowed on the condition that one of them undergoes an
operation to become a man.
The fluidity of sexuality seems especially true in the case of transgenders who experience changes in their
A point was raised whether there is really a need to categorize or label people. One opined that putting
labels is important and has political implications. The simple identification of male and female can be
used in solidarity building and political activism. For the moment, it might be necessary to keep the
categories considering that society is not yet ready to transcend it. The first task may be to recognize all
identities before blurring the categories and doing away with the boxes of identity. However, another
commented that the assertion of existing labels in advocacy gives rise to certain problems. Advocacy for
gay marriages, by implication, strengthens certain social structures i.e. the State, education, marriage, the
Church, etc. And these are the institutions that refuse to accept the fluidity of sexual identities. Queer
theory and/or postmodernism posits that one way of challenging these social institutions is by blurring
Discrimination exists because the dominant identities of male and female heterosexuals have social
acceptability and therefore enjoy privileges that are denied other sexual identities. But a delegate pointed
out that discrimination and homophobia also exist within the LGBT community and such issues and
concerns must be raised and discussed during the conference.
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CAUCUSES: WOMEN, MEN AND TRANSGENDERS
Thursday, 20 October, 2.00 to 4.00 pm
The delegates were asked to join one of three (3) caucus groups according to their own personal
identification. The facilitators were Mira Ofreneo (CLIC) for the women‟s caucus, Oscar Atadero (ProGay)
for the men‟s caucus, and Maritess “Babats” Cruz (PLUS) for the transgender caucus.
The groups were instructed to identify the problems encountered by Asian LGBTs and to present the results
of their sharing during the plenary session the next day. The following guide questions were given to facilitate
the group‟s discussion:
1. What are unique issues for Asian (a) lesbian and bisexual (LB) women, (b) gay and bisexual (GB)
men, and (c) transgender (T) individuals?
2. What are common issues for Asian lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTs)?
Thursday, 20 October, 4.15 to 5.30 pm
ILGA Executive Board members Rosanna Flamer-Caldera and Anna Leah Sarabia presided over the session.
Anna Leah explained the rationale behind ILGA‟s chairing pool. Thereafter, the following delegates were
nominated and confirmed as members of the chairing pool:
1. Ranjan Karunaratne, Sri Lanka
2. Djoni Agus Suparta, Indonesia
3. Eddie Loh, Malaysia
4. Myo Min, Burma
5. Sulastri Ariffin, Malaysia
6. Chung To, Hong Kong
7. Betu Singh, India
8. Marivi Dizon, Philippines
9. Jennifer “Jeng” Diaz, Philippines
10. Maritess “Babats” Cruz, Philippines
Rosanna announced the start of nominations for the Asian Male and Female Regional Representatives who,
upon election, will be part of the ILGA Executive Board. Transgenders may be given representation at the
regional level if a consensus is reached during the conference for the election of a transgender representative.
She reminded everyone that only ILGA members may submit nominations. She asked ILGA members to
renew their membership and non-members to apply for membership. She announced that the elections will
be held during the last day of the conference.
OPENING OF NOMINATIONS FOR ILGA ASIAN REPRESENTATIVES
Thursday, 20 October, 5.30 pm
WELCOME DINNER AT THE BEACH FRONT
Thursday, 20 October, 6.30 pm
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 5
CONFERENCE DAY ONE
Friday, 21 October 2005
ILGA Female Co-Secretary General Rosanna Flamer-Caldera formally welcomed the delegates to the 2nd
ILGA-Asia Regional Conference. She acknowledged the efforts of the organizing team composed of CLIC,
WMC, cebupride and ProGay.
Rosanna reported that the ILGA headquarters in Brussels, Belgium now has two full-time staff, Patricia Curzi
and Stephen Barris, and announced the retirement of Tom Hoemig after years of fruitful service to ILGA.
Overseeing the operations of the office and the staff are the two (2) Secretary-Generals, Kursad and herself,
and the Executive Board. For expediency and efficiency, she and Kursad have divided the regions between
themselves to ensure that they can spend time networking, fundraising and troubleshooting in all the regions.
Europe and LAC are Kursad‟s responsibility while she handles Asia, North America and Anzapi. Africa is a
There have been significant developments since the 1st ILGA-Asia Regional Conference in Mumbai, India in
2002 such as the World Conference that was held in Manila in 2003. ILGA is preparing a report on lesbian
and bisexual women‟s health issues that include women‟s control over their bodies, female genital mutilation,
curative rape, domestic violence, STI, and HIV-AIDS. The report will be published in March 2006 and
presented during the next World Conference.
She also informed the group that the ILGA website, www.ilga.org, has been revamped and replaced with a
sexier site. It is presented in several languages and can be used to post campaign messages and bulletins. She
recounted the interventions of ILGA against discrimination and persecution of LGBT persons all over the
world such as the recent execution of teenage homosexual boys in Iran and the banning of the LGBT group
KAOS in Turkey.
She likewise reported ILGA‟s advocacy efforts at the UN level such as the lobbying done in behalf of the
Brazilian Resolution. ILGA has been able to register its presence at the UN CHR and is currently working
on its application for observer status with ECOSOC. Rosanna announced that the ILGA World Conference
at the end of March 2006 will be held in Geneva.
She expressed regret for the loss of two lesbian and gay activists who sacrificed their lives to serve the LGBT
cause. She paid them tribute and asked that ILGA take cue from their heroism and bravery.
PLENARY I: Caucus Presentations
Friday, 21 October, 9.30 to 10.30 am
Chairs: Chung To (Chi Heng Foundation, China – Hong Kong)
Maritess Cruz (People Like Us, Philippines)
Minutes: Danicar Mariano (Manila Secretariat)
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Fourteen (14) delegates from Sangini Trust, India; Women‟s Support Group, Sri Lanka; Equal Ground, Sri
Lanka; ISIS International-Manila; CLIC, KALAKASAN, PLUs Cagayan, Ang Lunduyan, Rainbow Rights,
cebupride, WAGI, and WMC from the Philippines.
The following unique issues for Asian lesbian and bisexual (LB) women were identified:
Lower income compared to gay men which lessens their participation in the LGBT movement.
Low level of awareness on LB women‟s issues and rights.
Marginalization within the women‟s movement.
The use of CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against
Women) to push for LB women‟s rights internationally; and the use of national laws (for
instance, R.A. 9262 or the Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act and the Anti-
Rape Law in the Philippines) for LB women
General issues concerning women‟s rights are doubly constrained for bisexuals.
Forced heterosexuality, the caste system and patriarchal structures further marginalize LB women in
Peer and societal pressure (forced heterosexuality) especially during adolescence stage has impact in
exploring LB identity for the youth.
Lack of role models and lack of public acknowledgment of the achievements of LGBTs that could
encourage LB women to come out of their closet.
Political exclusion in sexual orientation.
The common issues for Asian LGBTs that were identified by the group are the following:
Lack of information and access to health services.
Power relations based on gender, resulting in gender-based discrimination.
Lack of cultural acceptance.
A member of the group highlighted the point that before delving into questions posed, the women in the
caucus spent much time discussing the issue of identity, particularly in relation to transgenders, and defining
what was exactly meant by the words woman, lesbian and bisexual. It was reiterated several times during the
discussion that lesbian and bisexual women suffer from double discrimination first for being woman and
second for being a lesbian/bisexual.
Another emphasized that a unique issue for LB women discussed in the caucus is the concern for morality as
in the case of breakups involving third parties. This is unique because this is generally not a concern for gays
and transgenders. This conservative moral attitude may come from traditional values for females.
A final point raised was that lesbian women in ILGA have been marginalized by the gay men. Gays are more
visible, more active in organizing and attending conferences because they have access to resources. ILGA
must find a way to correct the gender inequality within in order to foster solidarity within the community.
Twelve (12) delegates from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the U.K., and the Philippines joined
The men‟s caucus touched on the areas that directly affected gay men in Asia: family, school, workplace,
community and media. In the family, the eldest son bears the additional pressure to get married and carry on
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 7
the family name. The breadwinner is granted conditional acceptance. Due to lack of education, there still
prevails the wrong notion that being gay is a disease so there are attempts to convert them.
Discrimination in the workplace and school was also discussed. The community plays a large role in how gay
men are regarded in society. Some concrete situations were cited -- a Philippine mayor banned gay people
from living in the city, police raided establishments simply to extort money from gay patrons, homosexual
sexual acts were criminalized in Sri Lanka, and anti-vagrancy and anti-lewd laws were used to harass the gay
community. The criminalization of gay sex (e.g., sodomy laws) is a unique concern for gay men.
In media, it does not help the LGBT struggle for equality that gays are portrayed as fools and comic relief in
TV programs. In China, an awards ceremony gives medals to groups and media that portray gay people and
gay issues in a positive light. Marginalization among gay men was also discussed, specifically the exclusion
felt by younger and poorer gays vis-à-vis the older and richer gay men.
Some members added other issues that were taken up during the caucus: harassment by the police and
government forces in Nepal and the Philippines; the difference between Western and Asian gays; sexual
health concerns; and the conflict between religion and sexuality. The group concluded that the gay
community needs more community support and intensification of inter-regional communication. To this
end, a glossary of terms must be compiled to facilitate the exchange of ideas within the region.
The transgender group, composed of nine (9) delegates from the Philippines, proudly proclaimed that they
are “the unconfused.” The issues raised during the workshop were creatively presented through role-play
with group members acting out scenes that depicted the problems encountered by transgenders. The
following unique issues were identified:
The use of public restrooms which sometimes results in transgenders being violently turned away.
Job discrimination that renders it difficult for transgenders to apply for jobs since hiring practices take
into account the (gender-appropriate) appearance of applicants.
Being a mere “stop-over” partner resulting in temporary relationships since the transgender‟s partner
often eventually pursues or marries someone of the opposite sex.
Reproductive and sexual health issues (pap smear, breast cancer, STI, HIV/AIDS, sex-change and body-
alteration practices) is a concern since some transgenders resist tests and examinations due to the
insensitivity and judgmental attitudes shown by medical professionals towards transgenders.
Loneliness in old age.
PLENARY II: LGBT Human Rights Advocacies in Repressive Asian Contexts
Friday, 21 October, 10.30 to 11.30 am
Chairs: Djoni Agus Suparta (GAYa Nusantara, Indonesia)
Sulastri Ariffin (Pink Triangle Foundation, Malaysia)
Minutes: Danicar Mariano (Manila Secretariat)
Promoting Equality of Sexual Minorities Under Repressive Military Rule in Burma
Aung Myo Min, Committee for Lesbigay Rights in Burma or CLRB, Burma
Myo presented the overall political situation in Burma, a country that has been under military rule since 1988.
He recounted the civil war that started in 1962 which forced activists to live in exile because of political
suppression and massive human rights violations. LGBTs face further oppression since homosexuality is
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 8
penalized in Burma under the Penal Code of 1882-88 which classifies carnal intercourse with a man as an
It was while they were living in exile that the five (5) founding members of the Community for Lesbigay
Rights in Burma (CRB) formed the organization in 1998. Their objectives were to build an LGBT
community in Burma, to assert the rights of sexual minorities and to promote respect for sexual diversity.
The common problems encountered by gay men include violence against LGBTs (harassment of gay men in
the workplace), lack of knowledge on AIDS and safe sex (no sex education), and limited recognition. As a
consequence, some gays live without self-esteem and dignity while others become sex/drug addicts.
The CRB campaign against homophobia necessitates participation in regional activities and media advocacy
inside Burma. Their advocacy work includes the use of HR education for LGBT issues as entry points, the
holding of dialogues with armed groups for changes in the law, the expansion of support groups with other
marginalized groups especially women, and the integration of LGBT issue into mainstream HRs, democracy
and equality discussions. Myo also noted that in Burma, women‟s groups are more sympathetic to gay groups.
Some notable achievements of the CLRB include the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual
relations under the legal code of the parallel government. Another is the inclusion in the draft constitution of
a clause that guarantees freedom from discrimination “regardless of sexual orientation.”
Despite their accomplishments, numerous challenges are still facing the gay community. The conflict
between religion and western thought, the perception that LGBT rights are merely secondary rights, and the
need to change the current regime before asserting LGBT rights, are just some of the issues that must be
confronted by LGBT activists.
Recent Institutionalized Homophobia and Legal Reform on Age of Consent in the Sodomy Law
in Hong Kong
Chung To, Chi Heng Foundation, China - Hong Kong
Institutionalized and systematic homophobia in Hong Kong was discussed by Chung. He reported that there
were improvements in some areas but the backlash has also worsened. There are now groups distributing
pamphlets that warn people of the evils of homosexuality. He said that never in the history of HK has the
church been so outspoken about homosexuality in such a public way. As part of their smear campaign,
millions of dollars were spent to place advertisements in the newspapers which label homosexuals as immoral
and maligned as the cause of the spread of AIDS. The major challenge ahead is to prevail over the hate
campaign waged against homosexuals.
In terms of penal laws, a sexual act between males is no longer considered a crime in Britain as early as 1967
but it was only decriminalized in HK in 1991. Similar sodomy laws are still in effect in many countries like
India, Sri Lanka and Singapore. With regard to legal protection, an anti-discrimination bill has already been
proposed and, as expected, several groups are opposing the proposal. But in pushing for legislation against
ethnic discrimination and freedom of sexual orientation, it is the issue of racial discrimination that is enjoying
Delving into same-sex marriages, Chung related that the problem of marriage is also a problem of housing.
Also, social benefits that are automatically given to heterosexual couples are denied homosexuals.
Another advocacy point is the lowering of the legal age for consensual sex between men. As things stand, the
age of consent for man-to-man sex is 21 while 16 is the legal age for man-to-woman sex. Under the penal
law, sexual intercourse with a female minor will only hold the adult man criminally liable. But in case of
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 9
sexual relations between two men, not only will the adult male face persecution but so will the minor.
Advocates have pushed for changes in the law. In Britain, it took them 35 years to lower the age of consent
from 21 to 16. Chung asserts that if a man is mature enough to have sex with a woman, the same man
should have the same maturity to make a decision whether to have sex with another man.
The efforts undertaken by the group to fight homophobia is meeting great resistance from the well-funded
religious groups. Chung personally believes that many Christians are sympathetic but the small opposition,
the minority, has a loud voice and directly affecting the LGBTs.
Considering the limited resources available, Chung proposes three solutions. First, forge strategic alliances
with the non-LGBT community, human rights groups such as Amnesty International, youth organizations,
women‟s groups and others to make it a mainstream human rights issue and not just an LGBT issue. The
second strategy is to mobilize the media to counterbalance the misinformation campaign and to swing public
opinion. And the third is to exert international pressure. International coalitions can be windows of
opportunity to network with like-minded groups and strengthen the advocacy for LGBT rights.
Rosanna reiterated the importance of uniting in order to advocate for LGBT rights. There is a need for
LGBT groups to put aside their differences to show a united front to combat forces instilling
Asked whether Aung San Suu Kyi has issued any public statement on homosexuality, Myo answered in
the negative. He explained that the silence is brought about by caution since she is aware of the
opposition against homosexuality.
Commenting about the Vatican, a delegate explained that the women‟s groups have been aware from the
very beginning that people within the progressive forces are protecting the Church because the latter has
been double-sided about it. In the Philippines, the Catholic Church, presenting itself as a benign political
movement, has been at the forefront of many human rights campaigns. Thus, many colleagues are
advising against fighting the Church and prioritizing the political struggle. As a result, LGBT concerns
are taking a backseat even within the progressive movement.
A delegate said that the Philippine rebel army has allowed gay marriages. In Burma, same-sex relations
are decriminalized but gay marriages are still prohibited. According to Myo, the parallel government has
yet to come up with a policy on same-sex marriages but it has included sexual minorities in the proposed
Chung was asked to elaborate on the importance of engaging the WTO. He said that anti-globalization
groups are organizing protests in Hong Kong in December and LGBT groups could take this
opportunity to exert international pressure. “Anti-homophobia is bad for business” is one campaign
strategy that could be used especially since Hong Kong presents itself as an open, world city. But the
lack of an anti-discrimination law protecting people of diverse sexual orientations would not attract world
talents and without such talents, it cannot be considered a world city. Under the strategic alliance theory,
a panel discussion or forum could be held just to bring sexual orientation on the table and let more
people know about this issue.
PARALLEL WORKSHOPS: LGBTs, Social Movements & the State
Friday, 21 October , 11.30 am to 1.00 pm
GENERAL WORKSHOP I: “Ain’t I a (wo)man” - Interfacing LGBT advocacy with feminist
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 10
Presentors: Raijeli Nicole (ISIS International-Manila)
Tesa De Vela (Women and Gender Institute, Philippines)
Minutes: Danicar Mariano (Manila Secretariat)
Tesa began by explaining that the workshop title was a reference to the question of a black feminist “Ain‟t I a
woman, as well?” when she called upon the white feminists to include them in their advocacy and struggle for
equality and liberation. The slogan has been adopted in the context of LGBTs and the discussion of the
Raijeli briefly introduced her organization, ISIS International, and the work it is doing in terms of organizing
and facilitating dialogues within the women‟s movement. The approach their work from a Southern feminist
perspective which views discrimination not only on the basis of being women but brings into the framework
the historical background of colonialism or the struggle for independence. The perspective includes issues of
racism, indigenous peoples, and LGBTs.
She presented the objective and the expected outcomes of the workshop. First is network exchange or
information about women‟s movement-based networks that are open to LGBT issues as well as LGBT
networks in the region that are progressive and can put LGBT issues in their agenda. The other possible
outcome is information and communication exchange.
Raijeli then gave a short presentation of the women‟s movements in the Asia-Pacific region. She discussed
the first wave of the women‟s movement in the „70s which viewed women as a homogenous group who were
discriminated against because they were women. The second wave brought in hard questions and a new
analysis that women were not discriminated against simply because they are female. Women have multi-
layered and contradictory identities and there are times that some identities take precedence over others.
Thus, there was a debunking of the rallying cry that “sisterhood is global”, which recognizes a monolithic
woman‟s movement based on only one category of woman, and a shift towards recognizing the politics of
Among the critical issues within the Asia-Pacific region is the shift in the macro-environment. There is a
need to critique the role of corporate power as well as the intersecting roles of the State, media and church in
supporting an unprecedented institutionalized homophobia. Considering the geo-political landscape, the
Asia-Pacific region is the new site of the struggle and groups should organize themselves to address this
Another concern is the absence of new blood joining the women‟s movement. It is not about numbers but
rather the need to have more people who have a feminist perspective and can critique the masculinist and
heterosexist view of society.
From the state of the women‟s movement in the region, Raijeli discussed the need for new thinking and
strategies towards building a politics of solidarity. There should be an inclusive analysis of anti-globalization
struggles which requires the identification of points of convergence instead of the denial or elimination of
identities. It is important to recognize diversity and identify and accept fault lines, limitations, and
shortcomings between nations, classes, sexualities, regions, and disabilities as real and present. The struggle is
to move towards this vision and make it a reality.
Tesa explained that the presentation is women-focused which reflects the thinking in the feminist movement.
It is hoped that the workshop would generate new thinking and strategizing since the women‟s movement
should now be looking at inter-movements and the strengthening of existing inter-movements, particularly
between the LGBT and women‟s movement. She also clarified that they preferred to use “feminist
movement” rather than “women‟s movement” since the latter is limiting for LGBT interfacing. She then
cited sexual rights, sexual health, and cultural diversity as possible areas of LGBT advocacy.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 11
The openness of the feminist movement to discuss LGBT issues was a significant issue raised. Raijeli
acknowledged that within the international women‟s movement it is difficult to find LGBT as a dominant
issue. It appears easier to discuss sexual health issues such as Pap smear and abortion rather than lesbian
sexual rights so one of the challenges is to navigate the discussion towards the latter. It is ironic that lesbians
within the women‟s movement do not tackle or are the last ones to discuss lesbian issues.
Mira commented that there are some groups that are more progressive than others in terms of being more
inclusive of LGBT issues. The difficulty in making the feminist movement more inclusive is probably due to
the development of the women‟s movement from a strong female and largely heterosexual identity. The
basic question then is how do you to make a straight person understand a non-straight person?
It was said that the advocacy of LGBT issues can be made more palatable by opening the discussion and
holding dialogues with certain groups in the region that are progressive but may not have LGBTs in their
agenda. Some big networks that were identified include the Asia Pacific Forum for Law and Development,
International Women‟s Rights Action Watch and Development Alternative for Women for the New Era.
Anna Leah added that another problematic area for the women‟s movement in accommodating LGBT
experiences is the presence of gays as men. Oscar stated that his organization has been advocating for lesbian
rights but he agreed that there is some resistance in discussing problem areas between gays and lesbians. A
delegate shared a similar experience in Sri Lanka when the first lesbian conference was held. It received
public condemnation and it was a gay group that defended them by lodging a complaint with the press
council and wrote letters of protest. However, the gays found little support from the women‟s movement
and the lesbian groups were reluctant to take up the matter. Another delegate commented that even lesbians
have difficulty in getting support from the women‟s movement in many ways such as funding.
Synthesizing the discussion, Tesa said that the workshop was conceptualized as a venue for the discussion of
sexual rights, sexual health, and cultural diversity issues in the LGBT context. But the group raised the point
that there are certain challenges that must be addressed before making an analysis of the LGBT issues in
those areas. And these are the division among the LGBTs themselves, skepticism about the openness of the
women‟s movement to LGBT, power relations as a factor in strategizing, and the “G” in LGBT as
problematic for feminists. There appears to be more hindering factors recognized than facilitating factors but
it is important that these concerns were raised for it encourages analysis of the issues.
SHARING WORKSHOP: “The Importance of Government’s Role to Give a Chance to Cultural
Expressions of the LGBT Community”
Presentor: Djoni Agus Suparta (GAYa Nusantara, Indonesia)
Minutes: Lynn Delfin (Manila Secretariat)
Djoni discussed the use of the arts and media in advocating for LGBT rights in Indonesia. Most of the
LGBTs in the „80s were active in the field of entertainment, performing as singers and dancers in stage
shows. The dance group Swara Mahardhika, led by the youngest son of the first President of the Indonesian
Republic, was a pioneer in the world of entertainment and emulated by other performers. But the advent of
private television had a negative effect for it lessened interest in such kinds of cultural presentation and even
the most popular discotheque in Surabaya where gay dance troupes regularly performed went bankrupt.
However, other LGBTs recognized the opportunity offered by television as an effective campaign tool.
GAYa Nusantara (GN) uses media to disseminate information and to promote the health issues of the LGBT
community. Combining education with entertainment, GN‟s “edutainment” dance shows were intended to
entertain the audience while providing valuable information on sexual health. The group has attained
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 12
international popularity and their performance during the International Conference on HIV-AIDS in
Bangkok, Thailand is considered a major achievement.
Aside from the performing arts, Indonesian LGBTs find artistic expression through painting and sculpture.
But few artists dare to exhibit artworks with gay themes out of fear since nudity is still categorized as
pornography under Indonesian law. One gallery that displayed paintings of half-naked men was prevented
from continuing with the art show. This conservative state regulation highly restricts artistic freedom.
Another cause of concern for the gay community is the threat posed by radical religious organizations such as
Front Pembela Islam or Front Defenses of Islam (FDI). This group has been known to organize violent
demonstrations against gay-related events. Just recently, a beauty pageant arranged by the transgender
community in Jakarta was forced to transfer its venue to evade the FDI raids.
Due to these restrictive conditions, works of art depicting gay themes are rarely exhibited in art galleries. It is
fortunate that technology has allowed the Internet to become the venue for the exhibition and sale of gay
artwork. While appreciating such small window of opportunity for artists like him, Djoni still emphasizes the
necessity and importance of securing government support for the LGBT community. There is simply no
room for LGBT artistic expression if censorship anchored on prejudice and norms of religious morality
continues to prevail.
After Djoni‟s presentation, the issues related to gay pornography was discussed. A participant remarked that
the sexual objectification of the male body is not allowed because it undermines man‟s superior social status.
Another shared that initially only naked black men were shown in heterosexual pornography because they
were perceived as inferior to white men. In England, it is illegal to show an erect penis, whether in straight or
bisexual films, as part of the power play because of its undermining effect on the status of men.
China is considered more conservative but it allows the presentation of gay painting and art exhibits. In the
Philippines, anti-pornography laws exist but they are not effectively implemented. Sri Lanka and Indonesia
have gay prime ministers but they are not interested in pushing for gay rights.
Despite the restrictions imposed by Indonesian laws against gay art, so far no artist has been arrested
although there have been threats of arrest. There is a need to change these restrictive laws but few gay
lawyers are willing to help and come out since they fear exposure.
PARALLEL WORKSHOPS: Mainstreaming LGBT Issues
Friday, 21 October, 2.00 to 3.30pm
GENERAL WORKSHOP II: “Engaging Government in LGBT and Engaging LGBT in
Government from the Public Administration Point of View”
Presentor: Ruby Palma (Quezon City Gender and Development (GAD) Office, Philippines)
Minutes: Danicar Mariano (Manila Secretariat)
Ruby shared with the group how they were able to mainstream LGBT issues in the city government of
Quezon City. She gave a brief background about the city and its transformation from being impoverished to
becoming the richest city in the country under the governance of the current mayor, Feliciano Belmonte.
She said that the first entry point in integrating LGBT issues in governance is at the policy level. After the
GAD Regional Coordinating Office and GAD Council were established in 2002, a Gender and Development
Code was soon drafted but it passed into law two years later.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 13
Ruby presented the features of the Code. She said that it is comprehensive for it addresses development
concerns such as VAW, health, education and socio-economic rights, among others, and imposes sanctions
for violations. It is rights-based for its provisions incorporate international, national and local laws. And it is
progressive for it recognizes LGBTs, respects women‟s choice over their bodies, monitors and sanctions
sexist portrayal of women and men in media, regards prostituted women as victims and expands the
punishable forms of sexual harassment.
Some provisions of the Code pertinent to LGBTs were cited such as the explicit prohibition against
discrimination in employment and training opportunities, the definition of gender which includes different
sexual orientations, the political space afforded organized LGBTs, the promotion of gender balance at all
levels, and the mandatory institution of a committee on decorum and investigation in all business
establishments to address complaints for sexual harassment. The Code also mandates gender sensitivity
trainings for teachers, parents, students and city government offices and imposes sanctions for homophobic
and sexist portrayal in media. GAD Focal Persons are tasked, among others, to organize the LGBT
population in the different 142 barangays, which is the smallest local political unit in the Philippines.
Ruby then proceeded to present some of the GAD programs and projects that integrate LGBTs. One
program awards the barangay with the best GAD practices and this was given to Barangay Pansol where the
chairman and half of the council are gay. The barangay had innovatively set up communication posts within
the community and has regular democratic processes which allow gays and lesbians to air their concerns.
At the project level, it funds gay health researches and supports gay pride in terms of the Pink Film Festival.
It Integrated LGBT issues in a film that was produced as a tool for gender sensitivity entitled “Luella and her
Pink Dress” and co-sponsored a PROLESB primer on the reproductive health of lesbians. The primer is
significant in the sensitivity seminars they conduct for it debunks numerous myths regarding health issues.
She related the reception by Mayor Belmonte of Rosanna Flamer-Caldera and other ILGA representatives
and the presentation by Mira of her Genders and Sexualities Matrix to the city government‟s staff.
Jean Pasion of the QC GAD RCO for the LGBT sector introduced PROLESB, a progressive alliance of
lesbians in the Philippines, which was established after a series of consultation organized by GAD RCO.
Some issues they tackled were violence in relationships, reproductive rights, discrimination in school and the
workplace, among others. Their major goal is to organize and unite lesbians at the grassroots level to
promote gender-based rights. The services they provide are not only intended for their members but extend
to their families as well.
She explained that PROLESB produced a film which it uses in its gender consciousness-raising seminars.
The documentary, which has been shown in various film fests all over the country, presents the different
situations and issues of lesbians in government agencies and in the urban poor communities. The film was
shown as the concluding part of the workshop.
SKILLS WORKSHOP: “Filipino Lesbians and the Law: Knowing Where We Stand”
Presentor: Germaine Leonin (Rainbow Rights Project, Philippines)
Minutes: Lynn Delfin (Manila Secretariat)
At the onset, Germaine explained that the Philippine legal system follows the civil law tradition as opposed to
the common law tradition. As such, sodomy law that criminalizes homosexual conduct, a common law
concept, does not apply to the Philippines. But Philippine law does not expressly provide protection to
LGBTs and government policies are discriminatory in actual practice.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 14
Under the 1987 Family Code, a marriage may be annulled or the parties granted a decree of legal separation
on the grounds of lesbianism and homosexuality. Labor laws prohibit discrimination but hiring practices
prove otherwise. In some companies, lesbianism can be construed as covered by the immorality clause in
employment contracts and employees‟ code of ethics. With regard to employment in the public sector, the
Civil Service bill pending in Congress contains a clause that prohibits discrimination based on sexual
With respect to lesbian partnerships, same-sex marriage is not allowed under Philippine laws since marriage
can only be contracted between a man and a woman. Recent Supreme Court decisions have allowed changes
in the legal identities of transgenders who have undergone sex-change operations. As a consequence, a bill in
Congress seeks to limit marriages between a “natural-born” man and woman.
Germaine stressed the need for advocacy considering the lack of legal protection given to LGBTs. Lesbian
partners are not treated as spouses but remain strangers and do not enjoy next-of-kin status which is
important especially in life-threatening situations. LGBTs have no right to inherit from their partners, they
cannot avail of social security and insurance benefits, they are not granted tax exemptions like married
couples, privileged communications between the spouses do not apply and they are denied immigration
rights. But certain legal instruments may be used to protect lesbian partnerships and their property relations
such as special powers of attorney, last will and testament, deeds of donation, property agreements and trust
Some emerging trends and concepts respecting LGBT rights include pending legislative proposals to amend
the law on child abuse to include protection against parents maltreating their children because of their sexual
identity. An anti-discrimination bill is languishing in Congress. At the local level, there is a Quezon City
ordinance that prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation. However, such local
legislation is presently being challenged in court. Considering the dearth of legal protection afforded to
LGBT relationships, there is an apparent necessity to engage in impact litigation to obtain judicial
interpretation of LGBT rights.
During the open forum, a delegate commented that some laws are actually favorable to LGBTs such as the
law on adultery and annulment of marriage. However, Germaine explained that lesbianism is used as an
argument against the mother in custody battles.
The narration of the gang rape of a gay boy led to the discussion of crimes and investigations of sexual
violence against LGBTs. Several problems were raised including vaginal examinations and the absence of a
protocol for gay and lesbian victims. A legal development is the passage of the new anti-rape law which
classifies sexual assault on gays as rape whereas under the old law, it is considered merely an act of
lasciviousness which carries a lighter penalty than rape.
Other laws used to harass gays were mentioned such as the anti-vagrancy law. Some delegates shared their
experience with police authorities who arrested them in order to exact and obtain sexual favors from them.
Most of the gays were unaware that they had the right to complain. Another problem was brought up – if
they are complaining against abusive police authorities, where do they go to complain?
Domestic violence between gay men was also discussed during the workshop. With regard to same-sex
marriages, Germaine explained that other countries have afforded LGBTs couples varying degrees of
protection. She said that some LGBT groups have asserted and advocated for domestic partnership rights
before full marriage rights as a matter of strategy.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 15
Friday, 21 October, 3.45 to 4.00 pm
Rosanna Flamer-Caldera presided over the session to discuss issues pertaining to ILGA membership and the
election of regional representatives. She reiterated that only members who have duly paid the membership
fees are granted the right to vote. Each member may nominate a male, a female, and a transgender
representative. Organizations that wish to renew their membership or want to become ILGA members only
need to fill up the appropriate form and pay the necessary fee in order to participate in the elections. A
deadline was set for the submission of the application forms and payment of the membership fees.
PLENARY III: “Health Priorities in the Asian Region Unique to LGBTs”
Friday, 21 October, 4.00 to 5.30 pm
Chair: Ranjan Karunaratne (Equal Ground, Sri Lanka)
Raijeli Nicole (ISIS International-Manila)
Minutes: Danicar Mariano (Manila Secretariat)
HIV and MSM, Success and Challenges in China
Chung To, Chi Heng Foundation, China - Hong Kong
Chung spoke about AIDS and MSM in China and discussed its effects on sex workers. He gave a brief
background of Chinese history that has long documented homosexuality. The records would show that even
emperors had male concubines. China never regulated lesbian and gay sexuality for homosexuality was seen
as a private matter like in many Asian countries. Former British colonies had more laws restricting sexuality.
Under the criminal code, there is a Hooliganism law that mentioned sodomy but not homosexuality. That
law on hooliganism was abolished in 1997 so there is currently no specific law on homosexuality. Another
interesting development in 2001 was the delisting of homosexuality from the list of mental disorders by the
Chinese Psychiatric Association. The official government stand is that homosexuality is not illegal and it is
not a disease or psychological disorder that needs to be cured. After those developments the LGBT
community developed quite rapidly especially in the big cities.
The present challenge facing the Chinese government is the threat of HIV-AIDS. The government had
initially focused on economic growth without regard for the social aspects like public health, education and
the environment. The epidemic caused by SARS in 2003 affected China economically and it made the
government realize that it had to pay more attention to social and health issues like AIDS.
AIDS prevention work is made more difficult by the social stigma attached to sex workers and homosexuals
infected by the disease as compared to blood-sellers or plasma donors and intravenous drug users who get
more sympathy from society. MSM is not illegal but sex work is illegal. However, people and government
tend to understand prostitution but not homosexuality which is why it is more challenging to convince
society that homosexuality does exist before telling people that they are at risk of HIV.
In China today, Chung believes that the AIDS epidemic could even be worse than in the U.S. in the „70s
because of the high degree of bisexuality. There is strong social pressure to get married and condoms and
lubricants in China are not cheap considering people‟s earning power. So with the spread of the virus in the
homosexual community, it likewise infected their wives and children.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 16
And the issues raised by Chung are not theoretical concerns. Recent studies show that there is a consistent
3% – 5% prevalence rate of HIV among MSMs. And this is considerably high since the MSM population is
estimated at around 30 million.
Chung believes that the community could be mobilized to be more understanding of MSM and sex work. A
nonjudgmental attitude is also important which is why they do not ask sex workers to change occupations but
their focus is to treat them as they are and to teach them how to practice safe sex.
Understanding the Role of Physical and Social Aspects in the Sexual Health and Well-Being
of LGBTs in Indonesia
Djoni Agus Suparta, GAYa Nusantara, Indonesia
In Indonesia, Djoni described the LGBT community‟s growing concern for sexual health in view of the
increasing number of HIV-AID cases. But the concept of sexual health loses its meaning since the focus is
only on the physical aspect and does not take into account the psychological/mental and emotional facets.
GAYa Nusantara (GN) believes that one cannot prevent and help fight the disease without touching the
spirit of the patient. Thus, the sexual health service provided by GN embraces the concept of “sexual well-
being” which is not only about safe sex but rather sex without fear and shame.
Organized in 1987, GN first offered its service to the LGBT community by establishing a phone counseling
hotline in addition to face-to-face counseling sessions. In 2001, GN worked with ASA-FHI on the issue of
sexual health which included the distribution of free condoms and lubricants. However, the problem with
their joint program was its main concern for figures and numbers such as “How many gay men or MSMs
were reached? How many condoms and lubricants were distributed?” It did not consider the social and
psychological impact on the individuals involved. Another collaborative effort with a government clinic was
limited to physical examination of sexual transmitted infections and voluntary counseling test.
Fortunately, after several years of experience, GN counselors have approached sexual health problems from
the psychological and social aspects. They provide an alternative to the traditional medical advice usually
given to LGBTs to get married, return to the “right” way, change their behavior from feminine to masculine,
to avoid the LGBT community and the like. In Indonesia, being an LGBT is still considered a behavioral
The conference theme “Coming Out, Coming Home” is closely related to health. LGBTs cannot view their
sexual life in a healthy way if the spirit is full of conflict, fear and guilt. If they continue to consider
themselves abnormal, they will have difficulty interacting with others out of shame and inability to accept
one‟s own identity. But even if their own families reject them, the LGBT community is one family willing
and eager to accept LGBTs. It is a family not bound by blood but by solidarity, destiny and sexual
orientation. The meaning of “home” is simply finding one‟s own identity.
Understanding Same-Sex Intimate Violence
Mira Alexis P. Ofreneo, Can’t Live In the Closet or CLIC, Philippines
Very little research has been done on same-sex intimate violence but statistics show that it occurs in at least
one out of four same-sex relationships. It is not surprising that most of society do not recognize this unlike
the recognition of heterosexual violence. Should violence happen in a gay or lesbian relationship, it is usually
considered an exception, an anomaly.
Some commonalities were found between same-sex and heterosexual domestic violence. The forms of abuse
are the same – physical, psychological, and sexual. A similar cycle of abuse happens – tension escalating to
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 17
acute battering and then subsiding during the honeymoon phase. There are also similar patterns or
characteristics of perpetrators and victims.
What is unique is that heterosexuals do not face discrimination and homophobia so they get support and
general acceptance from the public. Because of heterosexism, gays and lesbians do not know where to seek
assistance regarding their problem. In addition, reporting the violence means “coming out” – a major life
decision for most LGBTs. There is very litle social support as domestic violence resources are not equipped
to handle same-sex intimate violence.
The discourses used to explain heterosexual domestic violence were presented because little research is done
on same-sex intimate violence. Most studies apply the same (heterosexist) discourses to gay and lesbian
couples as if they were directly translatable. One example is feminist theory that explains men‟s intimate
abuse as rooted in men‟s power in society. However, the basic problem with this theory is the absence of a
man and a woman in same-sex relationships. Feminist theory is unable to explain why men become “victims”
and women become “perpetrators” of intimate violence.
Positioning theory, which is presented as a new possible framework to explain violence in gay and lesbian
relationships, sees intimate violence as a phenomenon that is produced by how people talk and interact in a
relationship. People position each other by the way they relate to others and in the words that they use. For
example, saying that somebody is smart means that the speaker will let the other person be the expert and
simply listen to that person.
Positioning limits what people can do for it allows people to assign certain rights and duties. It might be the
reason why some people in relationships feel that they have the right to be violent because they put
themselves in a position of power and dominance; conversely, also why some people feel they have the duty
to take in violence because they are placed in a position of powerlessness or submission.
Positioning theory as a possible framework of analysis is exemplified by Mira‟s presentation of the
conversation between two lesbian partners arguing because the other arrived late for their meeting. Applying
positioning theory to their dialogue, one possible storyline is interrogation -- one acted as an interrogator
while the other acted as the defendant. Another storyline is accusation with one acting as the accuser and the
other accepting the role of the accused. In this case, the trivial matter of coming late ended in violence.
According to the theory, violence is the outcome of how one person positions one‟s self vis-à-vis the partner
and how that other person accepts, rejects or negotiates such positioning. Analyzing the dialogue, the
powerful interrogator who was aggrieved by the accused was given the right to punish the defendant while
the other accepted the duty to take in the violence.
Looking at social episodes and storylines helps to explain the violence that happens and how people position
themselves vis-à-vis the other person. Who becomes dominant, who becomes submissive? Is it the
dominant one who is always the perpetrator of the violence? Sometimes it is not the case so there might be
an alternative explanation. It is posited that if we see how positioning can lead to violence then maybe we
can discover how to counsel people since most go to counseling in order to end the violence and not the
relationship. Mira asked people to ponder – is it possible to change the way people interact so that it will not
lead to violence but result in a peaceful way of relating with one another?
Before opening the floor for comments and questions, Raijeli briefly summarized the main ideas
expressed by the presentors. Chung discussed how the Chinese government took HIV-AIDS seriously
because of SARS and it made them realize that health affects the economy. Obviously, the government
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 18
approached it from a market perspective and not because of well-being and sexual health. Djoni
questioned the present approach to sexual health. Instead of the traditional approach of focusing merely
on the physical aspect, he argues for a holistic treatment of HIV-AIDS. Mira‟s presentation challenges
the heterosexist framework of violence and presents an alternative to it.
Rosanna asked what possible reasons could cause a person to stay with an abusive partner – was it low
self-esteem, insecurity or fear of leaving a violent relationship? In response, Tisha shared her experience
with her abusive partner, the trauma and effect of the battering on her. She related that she was the
victim of abuse despite the fact that she was successful, assertive and confident and physically bigger than
her partner. She said that seemingly non-violent people can be in violent relationships.
A participant commented that most women believe that “you make your bed, you lie in it” for they are
taught that if they love somebody, that person will change for the better. Ranjan said that such
philosophy is classic Asian martial arts – the perpetrator uses the victim‟s strength to bring them down.
A more worthy lesson to learn is how not to be manipulated by other people.
When asked about her perspective on the battered wife syndrome, Mira explained that she preferred not
to use such labels but instead deal with people on a case-to-case basis given their own unique contexts.
Before the session ended, another delegate related how she ended up hurting herself because she did not
want to hurt her abusive partner.
FILM SHOWING: BABAE
Friday, 21 October, 5.30 to 6.00 pm
EVENING EVENT: Dinner, Dance, & Drinking at the Garden
Friday, 21 October, 6.30 pm
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 19
CONFERENCE DAY TWO
Saturday, 22 October 2005
PLENARY IV: “Taking Transgender Issues Seriously in Asia”
Saturday, 22 October, 9.00 to 10.30 am
Chair: Jennifer “Jeng” Diaz (Progressive Lesbians of the Philippines or PROLESB, Philippines).
Aung Myo Min (Community for Lesbigay Rights in Burma or CLRB, Burma)
Minutes: Lynn Delfin (Manila Secretariat)
Transsexuals in Malaysia
Sulastri Ariffin, Pink Triangle Foundation, Malaysia
Sulastri related the experience of transsexuals in Malaysia and their organization‟s advocacy work on HIV-
AIDS and transsexual issues for the past twelve (12) years. In the early „60s and „70s, transsexuals were
acknowledged and respected as entertainers, wedding consultants and decorators, tailors, hairdressers and
makeup artists. A few transsexuals were involved in sex work due to poverty and low educational level but
the number swelled in the 80‟s as their population increased. At present, there are around 30,000 transsexuals
who suffer from discrimination because of the stigma attached to their sexual identity.
Due to ignorance, society generalized homosexual men and TS as “Pondan”. This label was unacceptable to
the transsexual community so they called themselves “Mak Nyah” to differentiate them from homosexual
Lack of self-acceptance is the main problem for many transsexuals. The difficulty in accepting their sexual
identity, aggravated by family rejection, often leads to depression. Even the law is against them and has been
used to “normalize” their aberrant behavior by penalizing them with imprisonment for indecent and immoral
acts such as wearing female clothes and acting like females in public. Transsexuals have often resorted to sex
work as a way of survival despite the risk of HIV-AIDS, harassment from the authorities, and the incidence
of battery and rape by gangsters.
Drug abuse is common among transgenders. This is their way of coping with the pressures of sex work and
escaping from their depression. A recent problem that has arisen is homelessness due to drug addiction and,
in some cases, discharge from prison and rehabilitation centers. Some transgenders live on the streets
because their families have already disowned them.
Discrimination is commonplace. In terms of employment, transsexuals find it almost impossible to land a
job in government service. Rejection is not due to lack of qualification but because of their sexual identity
which cause most of them to turn to sex work. With regard to health services, they rarely visit hospitals due
to mistreatment by health staff and the lack of medical specialists or counselors and, instead, resort to
alternative medical practitioners. HIV testing and treatment are problematic since transsexuals fear
discrimination and prejudice from medical staff more than they fear being HIV-positive. In the schools,
some transsexuals‟ academic achievements are often overshadowed by their sexuality. Insults from peers and
even pressures from school authorities force them to lose interest in continuing their studies.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 20
In order to cope with their difficult situation, transsexuals have resorted to counseling services, dialogues with
institutions, law reform and advocacy work, conduct of workshops and seminars, formation of support
groups, establishment of welfare funds and networking to strengthen their community.
In closing, Sulatri stressed the need to change the misconceptions about transsexuals. Only with education
and proper information will society be able to understand and accept transsexuals as part of society deserving
recognition and equal treatment.
Being A Transgender in the Philippine National Police
Jude Mendoza, Philippine National Police, Philippines
Jude Mendoza shared her experience as a transsexual forensic chemical officer in the Philippine National
Police. People are initially amazed to learn that she is involved with the police force considering that it is a
very “macho” environment. Luckily, her skills had gained her the respect of her predominantly male
Her work entails examining dangerous drugs seized by the police and attending court cases as an expert
witness for the prosecution. It was during one of such cases that her sexual identity was put into question by
the defense lawyer who objected to her presence as witness. The defense argued that it was improper for a
male member of the police force to appear in court dressed up as a woman. It was supposedly a
manifestation of her psychosis which disqualified her from testifying and that her scandalous conduct made
her liable for contempt of court. The prosecution argued in her defense and the judge subsequently ruled
that there was no legal basis for disqualifying Jude as an expert witness but surprisingly imposed a fine of
P100. Despite the ruling, Jude continues to appear before the said judge in her usual female attire.
Jude also relayed her experience of sexual harassment from a lawyer. In the pretense of interviewing her
regarding a legal case, the lawyer invited her to dinner. In the course of the dinner date, the lawyer kissed her
and attempted to take her to a motel. She fortunately managed to extricate herself from the situation.
Jude is very thankful for the support given to her by her family to her situation. Unlike the experience of
many transsexuals, there was positive reception to her sexual identity by her co-workers. If given a choice
between being a straight male and a transsexual, she proudly proclaimed that she preferred the latter for she is
“gay and proud!”
Myo commented that a new issue appears to be emerging in Malaysia. The government is actively
promoting tourism while turning a blind eye to the suffering of its own transsexual citizens.
Upon being asked about the kind of networking being done in Malaysia, Sulastri replied that they have
local and regional tie-ups and the lesbian communities have been supportive of the TS program which
explains why their group still exists.
The status of homosexuality in the field of psychology was thereafter briefly discussed. In 1973, ILGA
pushed for the delisting of homosexuality as a mental illness in the World Health Organization. Mira
confirmed the delisting under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual but she noted that transgenderism is
still classified as a mental disorder under GID (Gender Identity Disorder).
It was proposed that the body recommend that all international organizations dealing with health oppose
the inclusion of homosexuality and transgenderism as a mental illness and work for its delisting in the
existing inventory of illnesses and psychoses. The proposal was duly seconded.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 21
With regard to the issue of transgender and HIV-AIDS in the case of sex workers, Sulastri explained that
they have instituted a program to educate them about safe sex practices. This is necessary considering
the number of transgenders who have already died from HIV-AIDs.
Jude was commended for her achievement in penetrating a male-dominated environment like the police
force. LGBTs are generally hesitant to enter such workplaces out of fear of discrimination and prejudice
but she has shown that transgenders can excel in such a difficult field and even gain the respect of her
colleagues. Jude responded by saying that notwithstanding her success, transsexuals have not yet gained
total acceptance so there is still a need to continue the advocacy for LGBT rights.
The legal identity of transsexuals is a cause for concern in light of the numerous problems they encounter
especially in dealing with government agencies. Obtaining travel papers and other legal documents have
been difficult for many transsexuals. It was recommended that ILGA propose changes in the legal
documentation of transgenders. Such proposal was duly seconded.
PARALLEL WORKSHOPS: LGBTs Taking Charge, Taking Care
Friday, 22 October, 11.00 am to 12.30 pm
GENERAL WORKSHOP III: “Guerilla Organizing: The LGBT Pride Movement in Asia”
Presentor: Oscar Atadero (Progressive Gays of the Philippines or ProGay, Philippines /InterPride)
Minutes: Danicar Mariano (Manila Secretariat)
Oscar explained that the objectives of the workshop are two-fold: 1) to know how we can incorporate Pride
in our activities as LGBT activists; and 2) to introduce and encourage interest in joining the organization
He began by recounting the history of the Pride march in Stonewall in 1969, when drag queens and dykes
fought police harassment in Stonewall Bar as a protest against discrimination and violence against gays in
New York City. Gay liberation movements sprouted across the United States and reunited in New York to
observe the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride rally. Pride rallies appeared in
succession in Australia and Europe in latter years.
Today, Pride events have become an annual ritual and have grown to include thousands of gay and gay-
friendly participants, not to mention hundreds of spectators. Many LGBTs dress in bright colors, head-to-toe
leather or sometimes next to nothing. Participants join the festivities to remind the world that gays deserve
the same rights as others and people should be free to live their own lifestyle, void of judgment or hate.
Oscar asked: "what is the Pride event for?" According to romantic gays and lesbians, it is to fight for equal
rights. For others, it is to sell alcohol and promote commercial interests. Oscar explained that a Pride event is
a parade, march, rally, festival, arts festival, cultural activity or other event/activity organized for people
identifying as LGBT and/or other emerging sexual identities and promoting the visibility and/or validating
the existence of those persons and commemorating the Stonewall Riots or a similar historic event.
He then continued to say that the first gay and lesbian pride march in Asia was led by Progay in June 26, 1994
in Quezon City, Philippines, together with the Metropolitan Community Church, with 60 participants. A few
months later, a pride parade was organized in Tokyo, Japan. And then in Taiwan, India, Korea, and Nepal.
Task Force Pride in the Philippines was organized by CLIC, ProGay, and Women‟s Media Circle (WMC).
With respect to InterPride, Oscar said that it was founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1982, as the National
Association of Lesbian and Gay Pride Coordinators. It began as a network of pride organizations in the US.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 22
It then spread northward to Canada and began holding annual conferences in different cities. Eventually the
number of participating organizations grew to cover different parts of the world. Interpride is now governed
by a Board of Directors with two representatives from each of the 20 geographical regions of the world.
The mission of InterPride is socially-oriented -- to promote LGBT Pride at an international level, spreading
the gospel of "Pride" amongst countries. Another purpose is to encourage diversity among communities. It
coaches new members on how to hold pride marches and gives tips on how to organize pride events.
InterPride also publicizes all Pride events on the Global Pride Calendar, regardless of the membership status
of the producing organization. InterPride has also developed and continues to refine a resource guide
available to member organizations which includes a variety of materials, from samples of by-laws,
march/parade applications/registrations, sponsorship strategies and other useful documents.
Oscar then narrated the history of Interpride, the organizational structure, the membership procedure, and
the benefits of being an Interpride member. To become an InterPride member, the applicant has to be a non-
profit organization and one of the group‟s major activities must be to organize Pride events. As an InterPride
member, the organization becomes part of an annual Interpride conference every October. Membership dues
are based on the annual gross income shown on the financial statement of the member organization's
previous fiscal year. Membership dues may also be waived upon request.
He continued to say that it is difficult to develop, plan and execute a Pride event in any Asian city. Many
LGBTs – closeted or out of the closet – will tell you it will never happen in your city. But once you start it
and it becomes successful, everyone else will want to join it. LGBT Pride events started as protest actions in
New York, Sydney, Amsterdam and Manila with only warm bodies, lots of drama and some protest materials.
It is called DO IT YOURSELF or DIY. Because of homophobia, not many corporations will want to give
support. But the lack of corporate sponsors should not be an obstacle to organizing a Pride event.
LGBT Pride events in Asia, especially in homophobic countries where LGBT rights are suppressed violently,
can start as indoor fundraisers for the first few years – film-showings, disco-dance party, poetry-reading – but
organizers have to plan for outdoor and public gatherings after the first few years.
Troy shared that their group in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines has Pride events. Iwag Dabaw also has Pride
events in the form of white parties and AIDS awareness campaigns in Davao, Philippines. However, only the
gays are visible and the lesbians are nowhere to be seen. Tisha reported that the first pride event in Cebu,
Philippines, has already been held.
In Nepal, during a halloween party parade, LGBT groups joined the march as a kind of pride march.
In Manila, organizations for profit are not included. We use the term Guerilla Organizing because you spend
the least possible amount of money, but you maximize the exposure like the ones you get from media.
Germaine asked if consciousnesss-raising activities could be included to which Oscar replied in the negative
for it does not include events which are too academic. Anna Leah then added that it's a happy group, a
celebration of LGBT pride. Oscar also added that circuit parties used to be a white male event -– when
you're a black lesbian or a Filipino transgender, you will be ignored. But now, China and Latin American
countries are also joining.
Oscar explained that Pride is also about merchandising but you use the profits to fund the pride event. Pride
events can also include a book-launching, a video-showing, etc. Gays have held parties to raise money for
dyke marches. The recent pink film festival has been successful in terms of pride building.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 23
According to a delegate, straight people also attend the events to help raise funds. Oscar related that in the
Philippines, they have held white parties as part of a series of events promoting pride and raising funds. There
are also tiangges or flea markets where they sell gay and lesbian products. CLIC has had video and film
showings. One problem noted is that bars do not want to have placards or to carry gay rights agenda.
SHARING WORKSHOP: “Sex, Health and Asian Science”
Presentor: Ranjan Karunaratne (Equal Ground, Sri Lanka)
Minutes: Lynn Delfin (Manila Secretariat)
Ranjan initiated the workshop by asking the participants to explain what to them is meant by health. He went
on to explain that humans actually have 3 brains: the reptilian brain, limbic system and the neocortex. The
problem is that the neocortex deals with data but it is the limbic system that changes behavior. Western
education is concerned with the neocortex, it is about data, knowledge and information whereas the Asian
approach to education deals first with the limbic brain before the neocortex.
Activists try to give information to people but that does not affect their behavior so focus must be on their
limbic system in order to initiate a change. An example is that lack of exercise and regular mediation as well
as unhealthy food intake can lead to chronic illnesses and despite conclusive database on this, it has no impact
on the behavior of people. By analogy, LGBT activists are asking straight people to change their beliefs
without offering them anything since it has no impact on them.
Ranjan stressed the need for a paradigm shift or a change in the limbic system. If an individual thinks that
the only purpose of sex is reproduction, gay sex can never be perceived as natural or healthy since there is no
possibility of reproduction. A picture was then presented which is perceived as either an old woman or a
young woman depending on the context of a person‟s neocortex. According to Goethe, “the mind perceives
what the brain knows and not what the eyes see.” Ranjan explained that the programming of the limbic
system determines what people notice or do not notice and this must be taken into account both in terms of
health and activism. Until one has access to other people‟s limbic system, there can be no change in their
He then discussed that human beings are creatures that can heal each other in fields of energy without need
of touch. But healing can only happen if the two brainwaves, that of the healer and the healee, synchronize;
otherwise, there is no impact. The brainwave pattern of the healee has to change to match the brainwave
pattern of the healer. Healing involves the whole body in a re-balancing process that refurbishes the immune
system and speeds up the rate of curing.
Western science believes that chronic disease is caused by a single immune malfunction. Time magazine
published an article entitled “The Silent Killer” in February 2004 which found that there is a single immune
malfunction underlying different diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer‟s, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Asian science believes that there is a need to re-balance to maintain the health on two dimensions – thought
and habits – so as not to develop chronic illnesses.
He emphasized the importance of habits of thought by explaining that stress is not the result of the event but
rather the person‟s interpretation of the event. Stress is the physiological output of the event. After
experiencing stress, the body must undergo recovery in order to be able to handle further stress. Ranjan then
presented data from the American Medical Association showing that adverse drug reaction (ADR) is among
the top 10 leading causes of death in America. Another data reveal that meditation can add 12 years to a
person‟s biological age. But if people were given the option of taking a chemical which can give the same
effect as meditation despite the risk of ADR, people would still choose the chemical. And this is the
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 24
difference between the limbic and neocortical information. Mere data will have no impact on people‟s
behavior and this should be considered in terms of LGBT activism.
It is said that “he who tastes not, knows not” and that is why education needs to be experiential and why
western education is superficial. Changes in perception cannot happen unless experience shows the
differences. The way people use their body is a product of the limbic programming from a western education
which is “I can do what I want, where I want, when I want, with whom I want and how I want” and if
something goes wrong there is a chemical that can make it better. Until there are habit changes, there will be
no influence in the limbic programming.
Ranjan asserts that neuroscience validates that the purpose of sex is having a person‟s brain changed by their
partner‟s brain, through a mechanism described as “limbic revision”. It had been thought that brains
developed through DNA coding but modern research reveals it happens through resonance between people
in a portion of the brain called the limbic system. Through limbic resonance seemingly distinct brains regulate
each other. Limbic resonance refers to brain waves affected by affectional link with another person and
identity changes from neurological connections with different models.
Modern research engenders a paradigm shift from binary gender (men and women) to gender plurality
(LGBTIQ). So the scientific paradigm is limbic revision as the purpose and gender plurality as the norm in
human sexuality. The sexual majority can only achieve such connection with a member of the opposite sex
while sexual minorities can only do this with members of the same sex.
PLENARY V: “LGBT Sexual Rights as Human Rights”
Saturday, 22 October, 1.30 to 3.00 pm
Chairs: Ranjan Karunaratne (Equal Ground, Sri Lanka)
Marivi Dizon (Can’t Live in the Closet, Philippines)
Minutes: Lynn Delfin (Manila Secretariat)
A Guide to Your Rights - A Legal Handbook for Sexual Minorities in India: The Book and Its
Betu Singh, Sangini Trust, India
Betu began with an introduction of Sangini Trust. Organized in 1997, it is the first initiative in India which
targeted LBT women. The organization‟s initial activities included setting up a hotline and forming a support
group for women dealing with sexual orientation issues. It has now expanded its range of programs to
include not only LBT women but also young and economically underprivileged women. Sangini advocates
for women‟s sexual and reproductive health, rights issues and economic independence.
She then presented the features of the legal handbook which is considered a unique resource material for
individuals, organizations, professionals such as lawyers and mental health professionals, family members and
friends of members of sexual minorities. The booklet is user-friendly and highly informative as it contains
topics on sexuality, violence and legal rights of gays and lesbians. It likewise identifies organizations in India
working for and with sexual minorities.
Although the book was intended for sexual minorities, it has received a great response from human rights and
women‟s organizations all over the country. Sangini, being one of the organizations mentioned in the
handbook, has already received numerous requests for assistance since the book‟s distribution in small towns.
She cited two instances wherein women ran away with their partners because trafficking cases were filed
against the butch-looking females. Having no money and clothes, they sought and were provided temporary
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 25
shelter by Sangini. As a positive consequence, it appears that Sangini has earned the trust of the community
because of the assistance it had extended to LBT individuals.
Sexual Health and Sexual Rights: The Sri Lanka Experience
Upeksha Thabrew, Women’s Support Group (WSG), Sri Lanka
Upeksha discussed the work being done in Sri Lanka to increase awareness and to change perceptions about
the LGBT community. She shared WSG‟s experience as the only organization in Sri Lanka dedicated to
supporting LBT women and working on sexual health issues. Its main focus in the recent years has been to
make the WSG more visible at the grassroots level. Homosexuality in Sri Lanka is penalized, sexuality is not
openly discussed and LGBT people suffer from stigma and discrimination.
It is the lack of information and ignorance about sexual health issues which prompted WSG to conduct
workshops on sexuality and sexual health. Aimed at initiating discussions on sexuality at the grassroots level,
four workshops were held between 2003 and 2005 in different parts of the country with the following
sessions: 1) women‟s sexual health; 2) HIV/AIDS; 3) introduction to gender and sexuality; and 4) stigma
and discrimination towards LGBT people.
The workshops received positive feedback from the participants because they learned a lot about sexual
health. It refuted the common misconception that sexual health was an issue affecting only married women.
And this was the only forum that sexuality and LGBT issues were discussed. While some participants still
thought that homosexuality was “not normal”, they felt that it was wrong to discriminate against LGBT
simply because they were different.
In July 2005, WSG conducted a bigger 3-day workshop which tackled the issues of sexual health, women‟s
rights including domestic violence, and laws against homosexuality. A session was devoted to the advocacy
of the LGBT movement at the international level. The workshop was a good networking opportunity since
the participants were community leaders from different parts of the country.
Upeksha stressed that these workshops are important to WSG because working with grassroots organizations
enable them to reach people outside the urban areas. It is only by raising awareness in these communities
that the LGBT people can combat against LGBT discrimination. She closed her presentation by saying that
“without creating awareness in these communities, we will not be able to move forward in our fight against
discrimination towards LGBT people.”
Human Rights Violations: A Gay Situationer
Rhoy Diaz, IWAG Dabaw, Philippines
Rhoy presented the results of the baseline research conducted by his organization in Davao City last
November 2003 – January 2004. The objectives of the study were to identify human rights violations against
gays, to identify the different forms of abuses, to identify the usual perpetrators and to identify concrete
intervention programs. Ninety-seven (97) gay respondents were interviewed and the data obtained was
supplemented by observations and focused group discussions.
Most of the respondents came from low socio-economic backgrounds with limited educational attainment.
Majority became aware of their sexual identity in their pre-teens. There were many reasons cited for coming
out but a major obstacle identified is the non-acceptance of the family, relatives and community. Thus,
majority first disclosed their sexual identity to gay and female friends and only two of them came out to their
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 26
Despite their difficult situation, majority of the respondents have already been accepted by their families. As
expected, initial rejection came from the fathers while mothers have been more accepting of their son‟s sexual
Gays suffer abuse from their own family, the police/military, intimate partners and even total strangers. They
experience different forms of maltreatment -- physical (beating, kicking, slapping, hair-pulling, hitting,
scorching with an iron), verbal, economic, and sexual abuse. From the results of the study it appears that
gays are more commonly subjected to insults and different kinds of verbal abuse.
With regard to sexual practices, a high percentage (43%) of gay participants do not use condoms during sex.
The research also delved into the personal reflections of the respondents regarding love, happiness, fears and
apprehensions. Among the recommendations given to address the problems experienced by the gay
community include city-wide conferences, human rights and livelihood trainings, lobbying for the passage of
a Gay Code, peer counseling, and creating an endowment fund for gays for education purposes.
A delegate expressed surprise at the low percentage of condom usage among gays in Davao. Rhoy
explained that this is not because gays are not afraid of contracting AIDS but due to the ineffective
education campaigns. Another factor is that most of the gays do not engage in anal sex but in other non-
penetrative sexual practices which do not require condoms.
A question was raised whether the Catholic Church‟s position against the use of condom has been
influential in Davao. Rhoy responded by saying that his organization has maintained a good working
relationship with the Church and the latter has not issued a stand against the use of condoms by gays in
Davao. However, he agreed that the use of condoms by women seems to be a different matter. This
appears consistent with the pronouncements made by some Catholic bishops that condoms can be used
for health reasons but not as contraceptives.
In Sri Lanka, it was clarified that prevailing sodomy law considers homosexuality as illegal since it
involves “unnatural sexual activity”. Said law has often been misused against homosexuals and there are
actual cases lodged against gays for engaging in homosexual sexual acts, whether in public and private
places, that are pending before Sri Lankan courts.
WHY LGBT SOLIDARITY, WHY ILGA
Saturday, 22 October, 3.00 to 6.00 pm
Tisha Ylaya explained the mechanics of the creative part of the conference. The participants were divided into
four groups. The task was to make a creative presentation, for instance, through song-and-dance, of the
group‟s answer to the question “Why LGBT Solidarity? Why ILGA?” Groups were given time to rehearse.
CLOSING OF NOMINATIONS FOR ILGA ASIAN REPRESENTATIVES
Saturday, 22 October, 6.00 pm
ILGA SPECIAL MEETING
Saturday, 22 October, 7.30 to 8.00 pm
Rosanna Flamer-Caldera, ILGA Female Co-Secretary-General presented the names of the new ILGA
member organizations in Asia: Committee for Lesbigay Rights in Burma (CLRB) (Burma), Chi Heng
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 27
Foundation (China – Hong Kong), PROLESB (Philippines), Rainbow Rights Project (Philippines), and ISIS
Rosanna then presented the names of the nominees for ILGA Asian representatives, with the assistance of
Ritchie Ybanez, a legal consultant, acted as the independent party monitoring the nomination process. The
nomination cards were read aloud one by one to the group of participants. For Female Representative, the
nominees were Tisha Ylaya and Mira Ofreneo. For Male Representative, the nominees were Oscar Atadero
and Aung Myo Min. For Transgender Representative, the sole nominee was Sulastri Ariffin.
The nominees were asked to respond. Tisha declined her nomination with much emotion and expressed her
support for Mira. Mira accepted her nomination also with much drama and was then congratulated for being
the new ILGA Female Asian Representative. Both Oscar and Myo accepted their nominations. As such, an
election procedure must take place the following day. Sulastri as the sole nominee for the Transgender
position accepted her nomination and was applauded as the new ILGA Transgender Asian Representative.
NOT JUST A SOLIDARITY NIGHT
Saturday, 22 October, 8.00 pm
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 28
CONFERENCE DAY THREE
Sunday, 23 October 2005
Sunday, 23 October, 9.00 to 9.30am
Chair: Mira Ofreneo (Can’t Live in the Closet, Philippines)
Sulastri Ariffin (Pink Triangle Foundation, Malaysia)
Minutes: Danicar Mariano (Manila Secretariat)
Mira and Sulastri, as the new ILGA Asian Representatives, presided over the elections. Ritchie Ybanez, a legal
consultant, acted as the independent party monitoring the election procedure and answering queries regarding
ILGA‟s Constitution and Standing Rules.
The names of ILGA members that could vote, that is have fully paid their membership dues, were first read
along with the corresponding number of votes for each ILGA member organization. A male group gets one
vote, a female group gets two votes, and a mixed group gets two votes. The ILGA member organizations and
their corresponding votes are as follows: cebupride (Philippines) – 2; Chi Heng Foundation (China – Hong
Kong ) – 1; CLIC (Philippines) – 2; CLRB (Burma) – 1; Companions on a Journey (COJ) (Sri Lanka) – 1;
Equal Ground (Sri Lanka) – 2; Gaya Nusantara (Indonesia) – 1; ISIS International-Manila – 2; Iwag Dabaw
(Philippines) – 1; PROLESB (Philippines) – 2; PLUS (Philippines) – 2; PROGAY (Philippines) – 1; Pink
Triangle (PT) Foundation (Malaysia) – 1; Sangini Trust (India) – 2; Women‟s Media Circle (WMC)
(Philippines) – 2; Women‟s Support Group (WSG) (Sri Lanka) – 2.
The total number of votes was 25. Oscar Atadero got 12 votes whereas Aung Myo Min got 13 votes. Aung
Myo Min was declared the ILGA Male Asian Representative. Myo gave an acceptance speech and Oscar
expressed his support for Myo and ILGA.
PLENARY VI: “Diversity and LGBTs”
Sunday, 23 October, 9.45 to 11.00 am
Chair: Eddie Loh (Pink Triangle Foundation, Malaysia)
Betu Singh (Sangini Trust, India)
Minutes: Danicar Mariano (Manila Secretariat)
Identity Disintegration Framework
Oscar Atadero, ProGay, Philippines
Oscar started his discussion by asking about the experiences of the delegates in organizing LGBTs. He
explained that the apparent difficulty in organizing LGBTs led his organization, ProGay, to develop a
framework of analysis to guide them in their organizing work. ProGay, which organized the first gay Pride
March in Asia, was founded in 1993. Their advocacy work involves direct actions such as picketing
embassies and government agencies and informing the public through media. They participate in
international conferences and organize community outreach programs, family gatherings and health
programs. They are also involved in mainstream media projects such as the Pink Film Festival.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 29
He presented an analysis of the Philippine LGBT situation. According to Oscar, homosexuality is not illegal
in the Philippines but it remains a problem in society and culture for gays suffer from invisible and invisible
forms of discrimination and negative experiences. Many LGBTs, especially those in the middle class, have
the mistaken belief that Filipino society has already accepted LGBTs so the gays need not protest but rather
celebrate. However, the reality is otherwise for data shows that LGBTs have less social opportunities for
advancement, limited health services, education and housing benefits, and prone to hate crimes.
The problem in organizing is more evident when trying to establish chapters in other cities for it appears that
gays find it hard to trust each other. Oscar explained that this is basically because gays suffer from identity
disintegration. An organization has to establish common grounds so people can come together and,
unfortunately, Filipino gays and lesbians do not have a stable identity.
There are varied causes of LGBT disintegration: family disapproval, lack of positive role models in mass
media, schools, books, TV, even peer groups; experiences of homophobia; and excessive need to be love and
to be needed. Problematic family relations, mood swings between rebellion and submission to authority, and
self-reflection as non-human are just some of the effects of identity disintegration. Unlike in women‟s
groups, there is no common identity or concept of gays.
The solution to disintegration is integration and this should be done at the community level. ProGay believes
that people can have a single idea of themselves. By having a positive identity, gays can have a unified
identity in the community, become less susceptible to substance abuse and emotional stress and are able to
defend themselves against hate crimes. If individuals feel better about themselves, it is easier to organize
them and the organization they form will be stronger, easier to maintain, more stable, and with a higher
probability of success.
The integration program consists of several phases. First, acknowledge the existence of the problem.
Second, agree on a framework that disintegration has deeper roots in society. Homophobia is related to
patriarchy and the higher social order accorded to masculinity and male dominance. Third, search for
positive role models that affirm LGBTs. And last, consider the traditional family values in the community.
Oscar ended his presentation by sharing some practical tips in utilizing the disintegration framework for
gender-related activities in the schools which can be adopted by the delegates in their respective home
Ethics in Dating and Breaking Up: Are There Any?
Ritchie Ybanez, Philippines
Ritchie began by defining ethics as moral principles or rules of conduct governing behavior. She said that the
idea of the session is to share about relationships. One issue that is difficult to deal with during a break up is
figuring out who to tell about it and a rule she follows is to divulge it on a need-to-know basis. The worst
thing one can do is to make it public. An issue related to disclosure is outing another person which involves
sensitivity especially if the other person is not open about her sexuality.
A participant commented that the problem with an invisible relationship is that when it ends, people do not
recognize the pain and it becomes invisible as well. Depression sets in since there is no support given unlike
in open heterosexual relationships. Another observed that the sadness of invisibility is not only during the
break up but it is actually more critical at the point that leads to the break up. Had there been support in
addressing problems then the break up could have been prevented. Ranjan believes that “it takes a whole
village to sustain the love of your life.”
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 30
Also a critical issue after the break up, especially for couples who lived together, is “who gets what?” In
addressing the matter of dividing the property, there appears to be no definite solutions or models and it
probable depends on the persons involved. A practical piece of advice given by Ryan was to just get what
one brought into the relationship and leave things that were shared. Another commented that break ups
need not be about bad things and it would be better to just focus on the good memories.
With regard to closure, a good question to ask is “when is it time to become friends?” Thereafter, the issue
of dating arises and identifying the players becomes relevant. A “player” is someone who dates people with
no intention of committing and it is usually motivated by sex. There are no expectations on the first date and
if it does not work out, people just do not see each other again.
After the presentation, some transgenders were asked to share their experiences in handling break ups. One
spoke about her relationship with a married man, how she broke it off and, without going through a grieving
process, looked for another boyfriend. One delegate related that breaking up with a straight, heterosexual
male left her depressed but only for a brief time since she knew from the start that their relationship was
merely temporary. Another cautioned that harboring such thought is actually a self-fulfilling prophecy and
the relationship is bound to end.
A possible learning derived from the experience is to appreciate “singlehood” instead of jumping from one
partner to another. However, others believe that it is difficult to make generalizations and it would really
depend on the persons involved.
CLOSING OF CONFERENCE
Sunday, 23 October, 11.00 am to 12.00 noon
Minutes: Danicar Mariano (Manila Secretariat)
Synthesis and Resolutions
Mira Alexis P. Ofreneo, CLIC, Philippines, ILGA Female Asian Representative
Sulastri Ariffin, Pink Triangle Foundation, Malaysia, ILGA Transgender Asian Representative
Mira synthesized the major points raised during the conference. Foremost is the evident need to strengthen
LGBT solidarity in view of the tensions and issues within and among the community. ILGA-Asia has to
work on it in order to succeed in its various advocacy issues. There is also the uniqueness and distinctiveness
of the regions with respect to issues and concerns. It merely shows that Asia is not one homogenous Asia
considering its varied political and economic situations as well as diverse cultures. And finally, the presence
of the transgender in the conference has brought to fore the extent of their marginalization and the need to
focus on the issues of the transgender community.
Sulastri thereafter presented the proposed ILGA resolutions for discussion and approval of the Asia Regional
Conference as follows:
1. The amendment of the ILGA Constitution to include a transgender representative for all
2. The amendment of the ILGA standing rules to include provisions for transgender groups
and organizations with transgender members in the election procedures.
3. The transfer of ILGA headquarters from Europe to Asia and its subsequent rotation.
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 31
4. That ILGA-Asia also consider possible changes in its name.
5. The Third ILGA-Asia Regional Conference scheduled in 2007 be held in Thailand and
hosted by the Committee on Lesbigay Rights in Burma (CLRB).
6. The creation of a sub-committee for ILGA-Asia, consisting of focal persons from the
region, which will ensure the active involvement of ILGA-Asia in the advocacy of LGBT
During the deliberations, several matters were raised by the body:
The proposed changes to the ILGA Rules should be more specific.
It was explained that the general phraseology was deliberate in order to give ILGA the flexibility in
discussing and formulating the amendments to the Rules such as voting rights, election proceedings, etc.
And specific details may not be necessary because it will still be subject to debate in both the Executive
Board and the World Conference.
There should be no subsequent rotation of the ILGA Headquarters after its transfer to Asia.
It was agreed that the transfer of the ILGA Headquarters should be limited to the Asian region
mainly because of financial concerns and the idea of making it less Euro-centric to reflect the new ILGA
The need for the creation of a sub-committee for ILGA-Asia.
It was clarified that the sub-committee is intended to assist the Asian Representatives in
implementing the projects of ILGA within the region. It was suggested that the group meet at least once
every six (6) months. Tisha Ylaya (cebupride), Oscar Atadero (ProGay) and Richie Ybanez volunteered
to be members of the sub-committee.
It was proposed that the Asian Conference endorse and support the re-election of Rosanna Flamer-
Caldera as ILGA Secretary General.
After deliberations, the following resolutions were approved:
Whereas, LAC and Asia have elected a transgender representative in their respective regions,
we propose the following:
THE AMENDMENT OF THE ILGA CONSTITUTION TO
INCLUDE A TRANSGENDER REPRESENTATIVE FOR ALL
THE AMENDMENT OF THE ILGA STANDING RULES TO
INCLUDE PROVISIONS IN THE ELECTION PROCEDURES
FOR TRANSGENDER GROUPS AND ORGANIZATIONS WITH
Whereas, to reflect the international character of ILGA and empower the LGBT community
in the Asian region, we propose:
2nd ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, Cebu 2005 32
THE TRANSFER OF ILGA HEADQUARTERS FROM EUROPE TO
Whereas, the Latin America region has adopted a different organization name to reflect its
unique culture and composition which includes bisexuals and transgenders, we propose:
THAT ILGA-ASIA ALSO CONSIDER POSSIBLE CHANGES IN
Whereas, the newly elected male representative for Asia has volunteered to host the Third
ILGA-Asia Regional Conference, we propose that:
THE THIRD ILGA-ASIA REGIONAL CONFERENCE
SCHEDULED IN 2007 BE HELD IN THAILAND AND HOSTED
BY THE COMMITTEE ON LESBIGAY RIGHTS IN BURMA
Whereas, to ensure regional participation and promote democratic decision-making, we
THE CREATION OF A SUB-COMMITTEE FOR ILGA-ASIA,
CONSISTING OF FOCAL PERSONS FROM THE REGION,
WHICH WILL ENSURE THE ACTIVE INVOLVEMENT OF
ILGA-ASIA IN THE ADVOCACY OF LGBT ISSUES
Whereas, the current ILGA Female Secretary General is doing an excellent job, we propose:
THE MANIFESTATION OF SUPPORT FOR THE RE-
ELECTION OF ROSANNA FLAMER-CALDERA AS FEMALE
CO-SECRETARY GENERAL OF ILGA
Tisha Ylaya, cebupride, Philippines, Cebu Secretariat
Tisha lead the renewal of commitment rites as the closing ritual. She thanked the delegates for their invaluable
contribution and active participation during the conference.