In the week leading up to Transgender Day of Visibility 2023, the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network (APTN) is proud to have participated in the Asia-Pacific People’s Forum on Sustainable Development (APPFSD) in preparation for the 10th Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development (APFSD) in 2023. The APPFSD is a platform for civil society organizations to consolidate their positions and recommendations for a regional sustainable development agenda. APTN is also representing the LGBTQIA+ Constituency of the Asia Pacific Regional Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (APRCEM) in APFSD 2023.
The 10th APFSD was organized from 27-30 March 2023 under the theme “Accelerating the recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at all levels in Asia and the Pacific” in Bangkok, at the United Nations Conference Center (UNCC). The Forum will assess progress on the SDGs under review, including Goal 6 (Clean water and sanitation), Goal 7 (Affordable and clean energy), Goal 9 (Industry. innovation, and infrastructure), Goal 11 (Sustainable cities and communities), and Goal 17 (Partnership for the Goals).
As a regional platform for comprehensively reviewing progress at the mid-point of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the APFSD will identify priorities and solutions for accelerating the implementation of the SDGs in the remaining years to 2030. The Forum will also support the presentation of Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) for the 2023 High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) and feed into the 2023 SDG Summit.
APTN took a bold step to demand justice and equal rights for LGBTQIA+ individuals in the Asia Pacific region. APTN’s Senior Human Rights and Advocacy Officer, Nhuun Yodmuang, delivered a powerful statement highlighting the need for change and progress in the treatment of the LGBTQIA+ community. Aside from the statement, APTN also organized a side campaign titled “SOGIESC Rights Belong in SDG”, trans advocates around the region participated and voice their opinion on social media. See below for APTN’s full statement on APFSD 2023.
APTN’s involvement in APFSD 2023 and the Asia-Pacific People’s Forum on Sustainable Development highlights the importance of inclusivity and representation in sustainable development. It shows that all voices, including those of marginalized communities, must be heard and that progress towards the SDGs cannot be achieved without addressing systemic inequalities and discrimination.
First of all, we would like to express our greatest concerns that, overall, the Twenty Thirty Sustainable Development Agenda falls short in addressing the needs of the LGBTIQ+ community owing to the absence of the SOGIESC rights languages within, and the binary language used throughout.
At the midpoint of achieving SDGs, we would like to reiterate that legal, social, and cultural discrimination and criminalisation continues to persist against our communities, these systemic barriers prevent us from accessing the basic necessities, and public services. Speaking to the theme of APFSD this year, accelerating the COVID-19 recovery, full access to resources and services for our communities to recover from the disease cannot become a reality when 398 trans people across the regions has lost their lives from transphobic murders, or sexual orientation, and gender identity of LGBTIQ people are still criminalised in at least 16 countries across the regions. The disproportionate impact of COVID to our communities also has the spike in the multiple and intersecting forms of systemic oppression.
In all of the SDG processes, the recognition of trans and queer movements across our region is required. However, despite lacking the data of our lived realities for the effective monitoring of SDGs implementation pertaining to our rights, we have learned from the People’s Forum that across the regions, there is not enough effort from the governments to reach out to activists and organizations for our participation in VNR processes.
We also live in regions with the reality of the shrinking down of civic spaces, where people speak the truth to power, but end up in jail. There is a trend of legislation by governments aiming to control the movements of civil society organizations and activists. LGBTIQ+ CSOs in many countries have anticipated the impacts and continue to resist those legislative efforts.
It is also disheartening to see that the SDGs monitoring processes has become a stamp approving human rights violation and injustice as it can be interpreted to verify the solutions that encourage multi-stakeholderism, and prioritize only economic growth while worsening the marginalization of LGBTIQ+ people. We have also witnessed HERE the glorification of false, inequitable, and neo-liberal solutions to accelerating the recovery from the COVID-19 which tends to result in widening disparities between privileged and underprivileged groups/and countries in the societies.
The promise of ‘Leaving No One Behind’ is clearly broken as the government’s approach to participation of our community is tokenistic, and doesn’t prioritize our needs.
Followings are our demand for addressing the issues,
- Reaffirm the fundamental principles of Leaving No One Behind and Reaching Furthest Behind of SDGs, as well as Non-discrimination, Human Rights, Inclusion through Intersectional Feminist Lenses, and Affirmative Actions in the implementation of 2030 agenda.
- Ensure reference of SOGIESC rights in 2030 agenda, and meaningful and substantive participation of LGBTIQ+ communities in the SDGs implementation to address systemic discrimination and violence towards our communities, as well as ensure the pandemic recovery for the people.
- Institutinalise special measures to ensure the advancement of our rights across the regions leading up the exit of SDG framework
- Lead the way to repeal the punitive law, policy, and practices criminalizing sexual orientation and gender identities of LGBTIQ+ people, as well as rights defender communities, and CSOs. Provide also greater legal and social protection to the communities for our safety and well-being.
- Ensure enactment of Gender Recognition based on self-identification and substantive equality rights for the rights to bodily autonomy and social justice of our communities.
- Our communities need to be included in the progress towards achieving UHC and ensure accessible and high quality public services that meet our specific needs.
- Ensure disaggregated data on the lived realities of our communities generated by governments for the effective monitoring of SDG implementation while ensuring the data privacy as well as preventing misuse of the data and state surveillance
- Change the system, shift the power. We need to eimagine the 2030 agenda with the voices of LGBTIQ+ communities and Development Justice Frameworks for just, equitable, and feminist solutions to global development.