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THAILAND - Mar 27, 2005

Organizers have announced the world's first International Conference of Asian Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Studies to be held at the Ambassador Hotel in Bangkok. From 7 to 9 July 2005, the world’s largest gathering of scholars, human rights activists, artists and film makers involved in researching and documenting Asian gay, lesbian, and transgender cultures will meet in Bangkok for the SEXUALITIES, GENDERS, AND RIGHTS IN ASIA: 1st INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF ASIAN QUEER STUDIES.

A joint initiative of the Office of Human Rights Studies and Social Development at Mahidol University in Thailand and the Australia-based AsiaPacifiQueer Network, the conference will feature over 150 presentations on a broad spectrum of topics of concern to Asian homosexual and transgender communities, human rights agencies, health professionals, legal experts, and policy makers.

“In recent years there has been a huge upsurge of interest in Asia’s homosexual and transgender communities”, says Thai Conference co-organiser Dr Sriprapha Petcharamesree of Mahidol University. “Exciting research is being pioneered by young scholars working in both Asian and Western universities. The conference will be an important opportunity for researchers and human rights activists from around the world to discuss ways to promote the rights of lesbians, gay men and transgender people in Asia.”

Australian conference co-organiser Associate Professor Peter Jackson of the Australian National University in Canberra adds, “This conference is about supporting the growing international momentum for homosexual rights. By bringing together Asian and Western researchers and activists our aim is to work collaboratively to ensure dignity and equal opportunities for Asia’s homosexual and transgender peoples.”

Topics to be discussed will include: social persecution and legal discrimination against sexual minorities in Asia; gay, lesbian and transgender citizenship and rights; homosexuals and transgenders in Asian cinema and literature; the globalisation of homosexual cultures; Asian homosexual diasporas in the West; and the impact of HIV/AIDS on Asian same-sex communities. The legal recognition of sex-change will be discussed by speakers from across Asia, including Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Iran. Homosexual women’s issues will also be highlighted, with representatives from lesbian organizations from Japan, China, the Philippines, India, Thailand and other countries presenting panels on the rights of women who love women.

Keynote speakers will be Professor Vitit Muntabhorn of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, and Professor Josephine Ho of Taiwan’s National Central University. Prof. Vitit is an internationally recognised human rights advocate who was awarded UNESCO’s biennial Human Rights Education Prize in 2004 and is current United Nations special rapporteur on the human-rights situation in North Korea. He will speak on the topic, "Sexualities, Genders and Rights in International Law: Implications for the Asian Region." In 1995 Prof. Ho established the Center for the Study of Sexualities, Asia’s first academic institute devoted to supporting the study of same-sex and transgender cultures. Her keynote address will be on the topic, “Is Global Governance Bad for Asian Queers?”

Prof. Josephine Ho says, “Asia’s vibrant lesbian, gay and transgender communities are making increasingly important cultural and economic contributions to the region’s social development. However, discriminatory laws and misinformed attitudes mean millions of this continent’s sexual minorities continue to be denied basic rights.”

Click here for the conference website or email apqbangkok2005@anu.edu.au for more details.

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