Tuesday, October 15, 2013

VIDEO & PRESS RELEASE: ASEAN SOGIE Caucus launches regional campaign criticizing declarations on women and children


On October 14, a regional network of LGBT rights organizations launched a video in response to the exclusion of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression (SOGIE) from the language of two recently adopted declarations protecting women and children from violence.

The video is part of a bigger campaign called “We are #ASEANtoo!” which was launched a week before the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on October 9 to 10, in Brunei. The Declarations on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Elimination of Violence Against Children (DEVAW and DEVAC respectively) were set to be adopted at the said summit.

The campaign also included an ASEAN-wide virtual conversation using the micro-blogging site Twitter. Dubbed “#ASEANtoo! Queer Tweets,” the virtual conversation coincided with the ASEAN summit. It drew Twitter users from all over the region and aimed to raise their awareness of issues related to SOGIE. The virtual conversations also aimed to expose the lack of transparency of ASEAN processes.

“The ASEAN Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression Caucus (ASC) started this campaign because of the many challenges we faced in ensuring that the two declarations explicitly mentioned SOGIE. Even with the help of our allies, we felt there was a high possibility that SOGIE would be dropped,” said Ron de Vera, ASC spokesperson. “When we saw that the officially adopted declarations didn’t mention SOGIE, we were very disappointed. We are also deeply concerned that there is an emerging pattern of SOGIE exclusion from human rights declarations in the ASEAN,” added de Vera. This is the second time SOGIE was not mentioned in the language of an ASEAN declaration. The first was in the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration adopted by the ASEAN on November 18, 2012.

The process of drafting the two declarations required national consultations by each country’s women’s caucus. This was meant to ensure participation of civil society organizations (CSOs). However, the drafts were not widely circulated, prompting CSOs to call out the ASEAN for its lack of transparency.

Discrimination, harassment, and violence against individuals of diverse SOGIE continue to be a heightened human rights issue in the region where laws related to SOGIE vary from one state to another. According to Social Action For Equality (SAFE), a Manila-based organization that monitors hate crimes against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people, there have been more than 164 LGBT killings in the Philippines since they started monitoring media reports in 2009. Figures on violence against LGBT people remain underreported due to poor protection mechanisms and legislation in the region.

“Lesbians, bisexual women, and trans women (LBTs) in all ASEAN countries face violence too. Their experience is further aggravated by the hate and stigma that come with their gender and sexuality, and that is why we need SOGIE to be explicitly mentioned in ASEAN declarations. Why exclude them? They are productive members of the ASEAN community too!” said de Vera.

The (ASC) is a network of activists and organizations in ASEAN member states who work to ensure people of diverse SOGIE are not marginalized from ASEAN-level mechanisms and processes.

The video may be viewed by clicking this link: http://bit.ly/aseantoo-video

For further information please contact ASC spokesperson Ron de Vera at rondevera@gmail.com

Saturday, October 05, 2013

I've got a gig in London!

It's going on next Wednesday! I'll be taking the train down from Norwich, performing 15 minutes of slam with some UK artists in Forget What You Heard (About Spoken Word). 

The Facebook page is here.

My fellow Singaporean poet, Stephanie Dogfoot, programmed me in - she recently represented the UK in the World Cup for Poetry Slam in Paris! It's also her farewell gig, 'cos she's returning home soon - hopefully developing our own scene.

Date: Wednesday, 9 October
Time: 19:30-23:00
Venue: Ryan's Bar, Stoke Newington Church St N16, London

That's the best photo I took of Steph when we met up in London the second day I was here. The blurb for the event's below!

Autumn is upon us, cold weather is approaching, the year 2013 is drawing to a close so what does this mean?

NOTHING! Except that the October edition of Forget What You Heard is round the corner and its the LAST ONE where we'll have co-host Stephanie Dogfoot before she moves back to Singapore....
So come down and join STEPHANIE DOGFOOT and MATT CUMMINS and celebrate/commiserate/bid farewell, and October's three spell-binding features you will definitely remember for a long time coming..fireball Anna Kahn, one of the most exciting & funny & accomplished young poets from Singapore today Ng Yi-Sheng and the tender yet ferociously compelling Alex Etchart.

and of course, YOURSELVES on the open mic! As always, entry by donation.
p.s. Since our open mic is so consistently packed out nowadays, we'll only be letting half of the open-mic slots go BEFORE the night, so that there's still room for people to rock up on the day and take part. So that means there are SIX spots up for grabs to you eager social networkers. Go, go, go!

ANNA KAHN Anna Kahn writes letters for a living and poems because apparently thinking about words for eight hours a day is not enough thinking about words. She once beat Scroobius Pip in a Golden Gun contest judged by a lady with questionable taste (true story). She writes everything from PG-rated poems about sexual deviancy to firmly 18-rated poems about her own grandmother, but she promises that if you'd ever met her grandmother this would make perfect sense. She's never been published, partly because she's one of those dreadful spoken-word impostors the Independent says is killing poetry by never actually submitting anything to anyone.

NG YI-SHENG Ng Yi-Sheng is a Singaporean poet-playwright-journalist-fictionist and LGBT activist. He's the youngest ever winner of the Singapore Literature Prize, which he received for his debut poetry collection "last boy". Recently, he co-edited two literary collections: "GASPP: a Gay Anthology of Singapore Poetry and Prose" and "Eastern Heathens: An Anthology of Subverted Asian Folklore". For the past few years, he has taught in his country's only university-level creative writing program and co-organised the monthly multi-disciplinary arts event SPORE Art Salon. Right now, he's based in Norwich, doing his Masters in Creative Writing (Prose) at the University of East Anglia. He was possibly the first slam poet Stephanie ever saw and got inspired by in one of the first queer literary readings in Singapore in 2005.

ALEX ETCHART Alex Etchart is a community musician, folk singer, poet, activist, clown, drama teacher, workshop facilitator and all-round decent human being. He has been involved with and inspired by Occupy London, Friern Barnet library and Balcombe anti-fracking Community Camp. Taking a page from folk singers from Woody Guthrie to David Rovics, his poetry is urgent and unapolagetically critical of the world as we know it, and unflinching in its call to unfuck-it-up, with a solid dose of heart and humour.