ADVOCACY April 11, 2019

Helen Clark speaks at APCOM Pre-Conference at ILGA World 2019

APCOM was active in taking part in the 29th ILGA World Conference, held in Wellington, New Zealand, on 18 to 22 March 2019. Represented by Chair of the Regional Advisory Group, Dédé Oetomo, and Executive Director, Midnight Poonkasetwattana, we held two pre-conference sessions on 19 March. We were honored and proud to have the Rt Hon. Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999-2008) and former Administrator of UNDP (2009-2017), in a well-attended session, mostly by delegates from Oceania. The event was graciously opened by Helen Kennedy, Co-secretary General of ILGA World, Clark was in conversation with Midnight and Dédé about how civil society organizations should attempt to engage with governments and international bodies like the UN system.

 Clark emphasized the importance of the SDG 2030 framework. Related to the goals is the LGBTI Inclusion Index, which was crafted when she was leading UNDP. Understandably, she underlined the importance of all LGBTI civil society organizations to understand and make use of international mechanisms. The Being LGBTI in Asia Initiative, which has later been followed by similar initiatives with less explicit names in other regions, has turned out to break barriers in many countries, although it has been ordered to stop by the Government of Indonesia. Using the SDG framework, accurate data need to be collected. Dédé reminded the session that in difficult contexts, all stakeholders need to be creative in designing programs that include LGBTI communities and organizations, such as including them intersectionally with stakeholders such as women, religious and ethnic minorities, and others. While some governments lack the political will to keep their commitments to international mechanisms, civil society organizations can put pressure by writing up shadow reports, engaging with friendly embassies in the national capital to prepare for processes such as the Universal Periodic Review. Helen Clark is part of the Open Government Partnership, and she stressed the urgency of civil society organizations to engage with the Partnership by providing empirical data from communities. Lastly, the inevitable issue of resources came up. This is certainly not easy, and for a while now there has been talk about shrinking civil society space and dwindling international support. This is where the LGBTI Inclusion Index, tied in with earlier indexes such as the Human Development Index, can pressure governments to provide domestic support. Corporate support was also mentioned by Clark.