LGBTQIA+ rights: Indonesia improves, Philippines lags behind

LGBTQIA+ in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines–Indonesia has made progress in advancing the human rights of LGBTQIA+ persons, while the Philippines has taken a step back, according to the Asean SOGIE Caucus response to the United Nations mechanism that evaluates the human rights records of member states.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) 4th Cycle, which reviewed the human rights situation in both countries for the fourth time, concluded during the 52nd regular session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

During the UPR, Indonesia received 13 out of the 269 recommendations specific to SOGIESC, while the Philippines received 9 out of the 289 recommendations addressing non-discrimination towards LGBTQIA+ persons.

Ryan Silverio, executive director of Asean SOGIE Caucus, expressed gratitude to UN member states for amplifying the calls of advocates.

“We believe that the recommendations received by both countries reflect the advocacy priorities of the LGBTQIA+ movements,” said Silverio.

These include enacting laws and policies that safeguard LGBTQIA+ individuals from discrimination and violence, rescinding laws that put their human rights at risk, and criminalizing hate crimes, he said.

“We thank UN member states for listening to advocates and amplifying our calls during their review of Indonesia and the Philippines human rights records,” said Silverio.

Indonesia, which has faced global attention over its human rights regressions resulting from recently passed penal legislation penalizing LGBT people, accepted 8 out of the 13 SOGIESC-specific UPR recommendations.

Meanwhile, the Philippines, a country with a vibrant queer movement pushing for inclusive legislations, rejected all of the SOGIESC-specific UPR recommendations.

Nono Sugiono, chairperson of Arus Pelangi, Indonesia’s LGBTQIA+ federation, appreciated the Indonesian government for supporting 8 SOGIESC-specific recommendations. However, there remain concerns over the government’s stance on the universality of human rights of LGBTQIA+ persons.

“We regret that the Indonesian government commented in their report that the human rights of LGBTQIA+ persons has not been universally agreed upon,” Sugiono said.

Activists from the Philippines expressed disappointment over the government’s rejection of all SOGIESC-specific UPR recommendations.

Angel Romero, Board of Trustee of the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce, said, “We remain hopeful that despite its rejection of SOGIESC recommendations, the government won’t dilute the various initiatives of the LGBTQIA+ movement toward an inclusive Philippines.”

The Philippine government shunned the SOGIESC-specific recommendations in November 2022, calling them “unacceptable” and stating they are about “same-sex marriage,” which is contrary to the local culture and religion.