The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), through the ASEAN Inter-governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), has issued a draft Human Rights Declaration. Although in many respects it reflects accepted international human rights norms, protection against sexual orientation or gender identity-based discrimination is a glaring shortfall in the instrument.
Draft Article 2 of the Declaration names several protected groups; discrimination based on “race, gender, age, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, economic status, birth, disability or other status” is forbidden. Interestingly, draft Article 29(2) commits ASEAN Member States to work toward ending stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS. The language in draft Article 19′s discussion of marriage is ambiguous; “[m]en and women of full age have the right to marry,” but the draft Declaration does not adopt any particular definition of marriage, other than to call it “the natural and fundamental unit of society.” Although a one-man-and-one-woman definition is not made explicit, the language does not seem to encourage an inclusive interpretation.
ASEAN is scheduled to formally adopt the Declaration in November of this year. SOGI advocacy groups, including the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the ASEAN LGBTIQ Caucus (pictured in the photo above), are pushing for revisions to the Declaration before adoption.