The United Nations announced its first joint regional analysis of LGBT people in South East and East Asia last week.

Launched on International Human Rights Day, the project will see the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United States Agency for International Development, Regional Development Mission Asia (USAID Asia) attempt to advance understanding of the social and legal environment faced by LGBT people in Asia.

It will also address LGBT organisations, the space they operate in, and their capacity to engage on human rights and policy dialogues. The initiative will examine laws and policies, access to justice and health services, cross-border partnerships, and the role of new technologies to support LGBT advocates.

LGBT people in many parts of Asia are still subject to social and legal environments that remain far from inclusive. Over the next 12 months, ‘Being LGBT in Asia’ will utilise participatory consultations to reach out to LGBT communities. Through discussions and surveys, the organisations behind the project hope to gain a clearer picture on how legal, social, political and health factors impact LGBT individuals and communities, and how these factors affect their rights and capacity to participate in policy and political dialogue with national governments and regional intergovernmental bodies.

“Due to the laudable efforts of local non-governmental organisations and advocates in recent years, the space has opened to contemplate the development, health and human rights challenges specifically experienced by LGBT people in the region,” UNDP associate administrator Rebeca Grynspan said.

“Therefore, we must work together to make human rights truly universal so that the aspirations of millions of LGBT people can add to the diversity and dynamism of Asia in its rapid transition towards socially and economically sustainable and inclusive societies.”

The regional engagement process will be used to guide UNDP, USAID, multi-lateral organisations, development partners, and governments at all levels to better engage and meet the needs of LGBT communities.

UNDP and USAID will also work with LGBT private sector partners and social enterprises to harness social media and mobile applications to develop and create advocacy videos documenting the lived experiences of LGBT across Asia in their languages to enhance knowledge transfer and support the emerging community of practice.

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