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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.
The current behavioural, social and epidemiological conditions suggest that an HIV epidemic in the Philippines may be unavoidable in the near future. The number of diagnoses is increasing, particularly due to homosexual and bisexual contact; there are low condom-use rates; and the age at diagnosis is decreasing. The underlying cause of these symptoms needs to be addressed in order to prevent an emergent epidemic.