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This study takes stock of recent developments in a number of South and South-east Asian countries in relation to the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity. It provides a welcome update of positive initiatives from various national human rights institutions, in addressing the discrimination, stigmatization and violations facing individuals and groups who simply wish “to be” what they actually are. These initiatives include research, advocacy, education, public mobilization, and contributions to judicial decisions, laws, policies and other processes to protect human rights.
This desk review examines the human rights situation for sexual minorities in six countries in insular Southeast Asia, namely Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Timor-Leste. It considers domestic laws and practices, as well as the international human rights instruments and obligations that each country is signatory. It concludes with recommendations to improve the rights framework in the sub-region so that HIV prevention and health programmes can be more accessible and responsive to the needs of sexual minorities.