Call to Donors and Funders Operating in Southeast Asia: Mobilize Rainbow Resilience

Published May 29, 2020
Language English

We the undersigned call on all donors, international organizations, humanitarian agencies, and governments to roll out — proactively and without delay — emergency and solidarity support for LGBTIQ activists and their communities. Resources must be made available and accessible to strengthen the resilience of LGBTIQ organizations and activists in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, to buffer against the losses already suffered, and to let effectively and quickly respond to the rapidly developing needs of LGBTIQ communities they work with.

This pandemic is hurting everyone. And everyone, as one voice, must insist that our only responsibility now is to preserve each-other’s health and safety. And while we do what we can to help and continue advocating for our rights, we must repeat: we are living through a crisis that directly impacts our own existence. Talking merely about work-from-home arrangements, disinterested calls for self-care, extending deadlines, and moving outcomes to online spaces is irresponsible and inadequate. Treating this as anything less than a global emergency is a gross miscalculation of what is at stake.

Our activism does not end with activities, outcomes, deliverables, and timelines. LGBTIQ activism must first and foremost be anchored on our individual and collective survival and resilience. To respond to the very personal crises of activists and their loved ones, at the expense of work plans and budgets for now- cancelled activities, is exactly what our advocacy is about. LGBTIQ people must be supported to live beautiful, dignified, and meaningful lives amidst the crisis. With so much resources, influence, and power at your disposal, we look to you and ask you to stand by our side.

In our region, the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the already intense battle against violence and discrimination, exaggerating old vulnerabilities and introducing new vulnerabilities with the haphazard responses of despotic states.

In our assessment of the situation of LGBTIQ organizing, the following issues were raised:

  1. The cancellation of programs and activities, which affects the resource capacities of local organizations reliant on short-term, restricted, or project-based funding;
  2. The difficulty and even hesitation to reallocating budgets from these activities to directly address the crisis;
  3. The capacity of groups severely limited by the crisis, including funding, emergency response, and organizational development;
  4. The prolonged loss of income of LGBTIQ persons, including activists, many with no permanent employment, engaged in the informal sector, or work on a daily wage basis;
  5. The loss of income of other members of the household, which many LGBTIQ people must now compensate for;
  6. The various physical and psychological impacts of quarantine and the uncertainties of the pandemic, for which none of us are prepared;
  7. The loss of access to critical medical and psychosocial services for LGBTIQ people who are PWDs, PLHIVs, are undergoing gender-affirming treatments or procedures, and others;
  8. The separation of LGBTIQ people from their groups and communities due to restrictions on social gatherings, uneven access to internet and communication technologies, and the psychological impact of isolation;
  9. The exposure to domestic violence because of prolonged interactions with abusive members of the household; and
  10. The situation for especially vulnerable LGBTIQ people who bear the brunt of the crisis, such as migrant workers, stateless persons, sex workers, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, children and youth, the elderly, and students.

As funders, we recommend the following to respond to these issues:

  1. Coordinate with organizations to determine the pandemic’s impact on LGBTIQ activism, identify urgent needs, and work on practical solutions for emergency response;
  2. Insist that grantees suspend all non-essential activities and operations, including unnecessary travels and online or offline meetings, to ensure all efforts are channeled into emergency response;
  3. Enable groups to reallocate existing funds to address immediate and long-term needs of staff, volunteers, members, and other partners;
  4. Provide organizations additional funds specifically for emergency response;
  5. Lighten requirements and restrictions to expedite the release of funds to organizations responding to the pandemic;
  6. Contribute directly to ongoing donation and relief drives led by LGBTIQ groups, and trust them to be able to do what is needed;
  7. Leverage on available knowledge and expertise to provide technical advice to support organizations’ efforts to respond to the various technical issues inherent to the crisis;
  8. Support organizations’ efforts to acquire additional funding from donors who have recently released calls for proposals for COVID-19 response; and
  9. Urge fellow funders and governments to take these recommendations seriously to ensure the resilience, and continued existence, of LGBTIQ activists and groups.

This crisis asks so much of us, but we can respond with our commitment to what truly matters. Because our activism is more than reports, dialogues, conferences, and fancy social media tidbits. With this pandemic drastically impacting our lives, it is our imperative to take care of each-other, help each-other thrive, and be the source of each-other’s strength.

* This statement was co-signed by 128 individuals activists and 48 organizations across Southeast Asia as attached.

We’ve received signatures from:

  1. #Loveisdiversity (Cambodia)
  2. APCOM (Thailand)
  4. Ashoka (Philippines)
  5. Asia Pacific Transgender Network
  6. Aves Community Based Organization Inc. (Philippines)
  7. Barangay Pride Council (Philippines)
  8. Be Visible Asia (Thailand)
  9. Bisdak Pride, Inc. (Philippines)
  10. Camp Queer (Philippines)
  11. Cebuano Youth Ambassadors Inc (Philippines)
  13. Decent Image of South Signa Association (Philippines)
  14. Diversity Malaysia (Malaysia)
  15. Equal Asia Foundation (Thailand)
  16. GALANG Philippines, Inc. (Philippines)
  17. GlobalGrace (Philippines)
  18. Hoa Thi (Vietnam)
  19. Iloilo Pride Team (Philippines)
  20. IndigNation (Singapore)
  21. Initiatives for International Dialogue
  22. Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (ISEE) (Vietnam)
  23. KAPEDERASYON LGBT Organization (Philippines)
  24. Kolektif Tanpa Nama (Indonesia)
  25. Lamians (Philippines)
  26. Lashio Tomboy and Lesbian Group (Myanmar)
  27. Lesbian Alliance Movement (Philippines)
  28. Lesbian For Rights (Philippines)
  29. Lesbian Organization Against Violence and Inequality (Philippines)
  30. LGBT Youth Platform (Myanmar)
  31. LGBTQ+ Organization Inc. (Philippines)
  32. LGBTs Christian Church Inc (Philippines)
  33. LOUD (Philippines)
  34. Metro Manila Pride (Philippines)
  35. Mindanao Pride (Philippines)
  36. Mujer-LGBT Organization, Inc. (Philippines)
  37. Open Table MCC (Philippines)
  38. PANTAY – Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (Philippines)
  39. Prout (Singapore)
  40. Psychological Association of the Philippines LGBT Psychology Special Interest Group (Philippines)
  41. Rainbow Alliance (Myanmar)
  42. Rainbow Community Kampuchea Organisation (RoCK) (Cambodia)
  43. Rainbow Hills Welfare Association
  44. Rainbow Six (Myanmar)
  45. Samahan ng Kabataang Boluntaryo ng Pilipinas (Philippines)
  46. Sangsan Anakot Yawachon (Thailand)
  47. Sayoni (Singapore)
  48. Shape-Sea
  49. Side B PH (Philippines)
  50. Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (Philippines)
  51. TambayTimes Kids (Philippines)
  52. The Healing (Singapore)
  54. UniGEN (Vietnam)
  55. United Diwata Familia (Philippines)
  56. University of the Philippines Babaylan (Philippines)
  57. UP center for Women’s and Gender Studies (Philippines)
  58. (Philippines)
  59. Y-Cap for SRHR (Philippines)
  60. Young Artists’ Guild of Camarines Norte (Philippines)
  61. Youth Voices Count (Philippines)