“Everyone deserves to live free of stigma, persecution, and discrimination – no matter who they are or whom they love. Today is about ensuring that all people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – feel safe and secure, and empowered to freely express themselves.”
Rt. Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
LGBTI individuals in Thailand do not face the same issues of criminalization and violence that are present in other Asia-Pacific countries. Discrimination, however, continues to exist in the education, health, and labour sectors and LGBTI members of other minority groups (such as migrant workers, indigenous people) face compounded challenges.
Dialogue is necessary to help address these issues. The Embassy of Canada to Thailand partnered with local and international civil society organizations to support three events creating dialogue space for local LGBTI communities on issues of identity, inclusion, and advocacy.
The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum in Chiang Rai and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) World Conference in Bangkok helped generate these essential discussions with more than 500 activists and experts from around the world. The recent appointment of Thailand’s Vitit Muntarbhorn as the first UN Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity was seen as a positive opportunity for LGBTI rights in the region.
The Embassy also held a roundtable dialogue at the Official Residence, bringing together more than 25 members of the LGBTI community and international partners to discuss the challenges and opportunities for LGBTI advocacy in Thailand. This event was seen by local partners as providing a safe space for dialogue that is essential to their work.
The Salzburg Global LGBT Forum in collaboration with UNDP, highlighted The Many Faces of LGBTI Inclusion . The Forum currently connects representatives from more than 54 countries to establish a global space to reflect upon and advance LGBTI and Human Rights discussions around the world. The Embassy of Canada to Thailand supported the participation of activists from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand as well as Danny Ramada, a Vancouver-based LGBTI activist who came to Canada as a refugee from Syria.
During the Forum, the Embassy of Canada to Thailand stressed the need for a broader collaboration and cooperation between LGBTI communities in Canada and those in the ASEAN region given the ongoing social exclusion of LGBTI individuals and the military junta’s broader restrictions on human rights and civil society.
During the 2016 ILGA World Conference, Canada partnered with Universal Periodic Review Info, APCOM, ILGA Asia, and the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, to organize a side-event. The side-event provided a platform for a practical discussion on using the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to advance Sexual Orientation, Gender identity and Expression (SOGIE) Rights and empower LGBTI communities. This led to ways on empowering LGBTI groups, expanding coalitions among human rights constituencies, and creating opportunities for LGBTI activists to engage with host governments and the international community.
Capitalizing on the occasion of two significant international conferences on LGBTI issues, Canada’s recent LGBTI stakeholder engagement emphasized our leadership on a critical human rights priority.
This is also demonstrated the importance of having critical discussions about LGBTI, identity and inclusion and helped to strengthen collaboration among LGBTI groups between civil society and the international community.
Canada is committed and will continue to leverage partnerships with LGBTI groups to protect and promote SOGIE and broader human rights priorities in Thailand, including through ongoing advocacy activities.