The 5th ILGA-Asia conference with the theme "The Phoenix Rising" held March 29-31st 2013 has seen the biggest attendance ever of LGBTI activists in a conference in the region. Over 250 delegates from some 25 countries attended the event, joined by a numerous and enthusiastic team of Thai volunteers who were on rotation work-shifts throughout the three-day conference. The event was co-organised by local ILGA members Anjaree and the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand.
It was made possible thanks to funds provided by Hivos, Arcus Foundation, SIDA, Open Society Foundations, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Finland and of The Netherlands, and facilitated by ILGA’s world secretariat.
Unlike the 3rd Conference held in Chiangmai in 2008, which paid honoraria for a conference secretariat, this 5th ILGA-Asia conference relied mostly on local and international volunteer work as the ILGA-Asia Board decided to devote the conference budget to funding more scholars to the conference. All helped in the logistics preparation: board members, conference delegates, ILGA Co-secretary General Gloria Careaga…. 200 conference kits consisting of the program, t-shirt, lanyard, freebies like condoms and lubricants were assembled in a fancy ILGA-Asia conference bag by volunteers from Indonesia who arrived early for the conference and Thai volunteers from the Sexual Diversity Network of Thailand which joined the two host organisations in their efforts. By lunchtime of the first day of the conference, organizers ran out of conference kits and had to use the left-over conference material from the aborted Surabaya conference in 2010. Still, this was not enough and some late registrants made do with the conference program and other materials in brown envelopes.
After the opening ceremony, ILGA Co-secretaries general Renato Sabbadini and Gloria Careaga opened the first plenary on the challenges faced by ILGA as a global federation committed to supporting the creation of autonomous regional federations. They were joined by Sahran Abeysundara and Poedji Tan, ILGA-Asia Board representatives to the ILGA world board, and conference host organizers Anjana Suvarnananda from Anjaree and Mr. Kittinun Dharamadhaj from the Rainbow Sky Association of Thailand. Both welcomed the participants and informed them on the situation of LGBTIQ rights in the country. Dr. Taejing Siripanich, Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand, welcomed the participants. He asured the delegates that Bangkok is a safe place for LGBTs. He added that he will do whatever he can to support the Thai LGBTI community while he is in office.
Participants were also given a change to listen to brief country reports on LGBTIQ situation prepared by some delegates ahead of the conference on Bahrain, Burma, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lebanon, Macau, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Palestine, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam. Yahia Zaidi from the Pan Africa ILGA board presented a report on work undergone by the federation in Africa. Manisha reported on the situation of trans in Nepal while Hiker Chiu focused on intersex issues throughout Asia.
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