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MAY 2009 Go to August 2009 > The APF convenes a three-day workshop on the Yogyakarta Principles. Representatives from nine national human rights institutions (NHRIs) participated—Australia, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Palestine, South Korea, and Thailand. Their goal build understanding of the Yogyakarta Principles, consider the regional political and social contexts for implementation, consider the relevance of the Principles to the work of the human rights institutions in the region, and exchange information on how NHRIs were promoting and protecting the rights of LGBT people. IGLHRC was invited to talk about the conditions facing LGBT people in the region, and I had the opportunity to meet and listen to international human rights experts like Vitit Muntabhorn, Sonia Correa, Michael Flaherty, Chris Sidoti and John Fisher – activists who were all intimately involved with the birth of the Yogyakarta Principles. The workshop resulted in a landmark adoption by the participating human rights institutions of recommendations from the Yogyakarta Principles – the first national human rights institutions in the world to do so. At the conclusion of this workshop, the nine institutions issued a consensus statement that affirmed that the mandate of NHRIs extends to those who suffer human rights violations based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. They proposed that APF member institutions should integrate into their work the promotion and protection of the human rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, and should promote respect for the Yogyakarta Principles by state and non-state actors.
AUGUST 2009 Go to August 2010 > Leadership of APF human-rights institutions take the progress a step further. At the 14 th annual meeting of the APF in Jordan, they ask the ACJ to examine whether their countries’ laws and policies - including criminal laws and anti-discrimination laws – are consistent with, and ensured to LGBT people the protections of, international human rights law. In response, the APF commissions a research paper on emerging legal concerns for LGBT people in the API region for consideration by the ACJ – the recommendations from which are to be presented at the APF 15 th Annual meeting, which was held August 3-5, 2010 in Bali. The ACJ is made up of international human rights experts, high-level judicial officers, and legal scholars. It was established by the APF in 1998 to provide authoritative advice to the APF on international human rights questions, and develop regional jurisprudence relating to the interpretation and application of international human rights standards.
AUGUST 2010 < Go back to beginning The ACJ meets to undertake four key tasks: identify where and how inconsistencies occur between international human rights standards and national laws, polices and practices; develop recommendations for the inclusion of SOGI in national human rights action plans in API countries so as to; strengthen the effectiveness of NHRIs to adequately protect the human rights of LGBT people. To assist jurists with these tasks, the ACJ invited five activists from the API region to help them grasp the adverse impact of states’ failure to provide protections for LGBT people . I was among these activists, who included Siddharth Narrain from Bangalore Alternative Law Forum, John Fisher from ARC International, Joy Liddicoat from the New Zealand National Human Rights Commission, and Edmund Settle from UNDP. I highlighted experiences of LGBT people in the API region-cultural relativism, uneven application of laws, hierarchy of rights, and the contradictory policies around legislating the private realm. Siddharth Narrain presented highlights of the background paper commissioned by the APF on emerging legal concerns for LGBT people in API countries, John Fisher spoke about why and how the Yogyakarta Principles have taken off internationally. Joy Liddicoat shared the struggles around law reform undertaken by the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. Edmund Settle spoke about the impact of punitive laws on men who have sex with men in the API region.