Manisha Dhakal (she/her) is transgender and LGBTI rights activist from Kathmandu. She has been involving in Nepal’s LGBTI rights movement since 2001 through different projects on HIV/AIDS, human rights activism, constitutional campaigns, advocacy, capacity building, academic research, and others. Her organisation Blue Diamond Society is Nepal’s leading LGBTI rights organization, with over 750 full-time staff and 43 offices. Manisha is also the President of the Board of the Federation of Sexual and Gender Minorities Nepal, which is the national network of all LGBTI rights organizations.
Manisha is one of the founders of the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network representing South Asia. She was awarded the “Nai Ram Laxmi” National award in 2010 for her contributions to the LGBTI movement in Nepal. On 21 December 2007, the Supreme Court of Nepal issued a landmark verdict directing the government to enact laws enabling equal rights to LGBTI citizens. Manisha was involved in court pleadings on this case on behalf of LGBTI people before the Supreme Court.
Manisha possesses a master’s degree in finance from Shanker Dev College, Kathmandu.
Organisation: Blue Diamond Society, Nepal
Mani (he/him) is Co-Founder of HOPE – Have Only Positive Expectations and working as a Program Executor in the organization. HOPE works on:
Enhancement of Mental Health.
Providing safe-space / community center.
Sensitization & Counselling Sessions.
Monetary Support in emergency as well as support to access healthcare services especially mental health.
Establishing a database to of employment vacancies for the community.
He is the first transgender man who changed his name & gender legally even before the Transgender Protection of Rights Act 2018 have been passed and now helping others to get their gender marker change, also he is was the part of the Transgender Bill process and now working hard on policies making and implementation of the Act, In addition to that he is closely working with medical sector so that community will get equal chance to pursue their medical transition under medical supervision as well as providing medical aid to LBT persons to avail medical facility to improve their mental health. Mani was one of the steering committee member of CALEM.EU which works on issues related to SOGIE.
He is an administrator of secret Facebook & WhatsApp groups for transgender men in Pakistan as well as Muslim transgender men globally. The groups function like a virtual safe space and provide transgender men in the country an opportunity to freely express themselves without fear of being exposed or of censure from anyone - they can also network with other transgender men from across Pakistan, share knowledge and strategize together. He is also networking with allies to build contacts, associations and relationships with people who are not from the community but can support the LGBTI community by introducing policy changes to improve the situation for LGBTI people in Pakistan.
Organization: HOPE – Have Only Positive Expectations
Dr. Charbel Maydaa (he/him) is the founder and director of MOSAIC, the MENA Organization for Services, Advocacy, Integration and Capacity building that serves as a holistic program committed to the improvement of the health and wellness of LGBTIQ persons in the MENA region.
Since 2004, Dr. Maydaa has been promoting the rights for LGBTIQ persons through his work experience and activism in NGOs and INGOs since 2004.
He led many initiatives that advanced the programs to support and raise awareness on issues addressing LGBTIQ. He is a certified trainer on Sexual Orientation and Gender Equality, Reproductive Health/Rights and Clinical Management for women and men Survivors of Sexual Violence/Rape and has facilitated more than 100 trainings at national and international levels.
Dr. Maydaa has to his credit a series of publications; to name a few:
• Coauthor of A Gendered Approach to the Syrian Refugee Crisis
• Nahnou booklet: Booklet for teachers on social issues related to gender with Nabee’ Organization
• Training booklet on Sexual orientation and Gender Identity with Helem organization
• Myths and Facts about Homosexuality Booklet with Helem organization
• Research on LGBT social and health needs (Yemen, Sanaa) and (Egypt, Cairo) with UNDP regional office.
Organisation: Mosaic, Lebanon
Shadi Amin (she/her) is a pioneering Iranian LGBT rights activist. She is a writer and researcher. She published Gender X, a book written based on the findings of a three year research on the situation of LGBTI individuals in Iran. The English report for this research is available under the title Diagnosing Identities, Wounding Bodies.
Her selection and translation of Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde's articles were published in a book entitled Ghodrat va Lezzat (Power and Joy) which is one of the few Farsi resources on compulsory heteronormativity and lesbian existence. She is also the co-writer of Crime and Impunity; Sexual Torture of Women in Islamic Prisons.
Shadi Amin is the Coordinator of Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network (6Rang), a community dedicated to servicing LGBTI Iranians. 6Rang seeks to raise awareness about human rights violations on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression sanctioned by the Islamic Republic of Iran where the death penalty for same sex conduct is still in practice. She has run several research and advocacy projects carried out in Iran, which also engaged the international community and human rights mechanisms.
Organisation: Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network (6Rang), Iran
Gopi Shankar Madurai (ze) (Tamil: கோபி ஷங்கர் மதுரை, born 13 April 1991) is Student, Writer, Equal Rights Activist, Hindu Indigenous activist and Founder of Srishti Madurai LGBTQIA+ Student Volunteer Movement. Ze is a 26 year-old genderqueer student. Ze -the pronoun Madurai likes to use- is the founder of “Srishti Madurai”, a non-funded, not for profit student collective serves on the interrelations of Nature, Human & Society. Also rooted in Indic traditions of spirituality, Madurai was trained to be a Hindu Monk in Ramakrishna Math and Mission. Ze is the recipient of the Commonwealth Award (Youth Worker Asia regional finalist award 2016) from the Commonwealth Secretariat London. Madurai became the youngest candidate and first intersex person to contest Indian state assembly elections.
Ze is also a writer and scholar on Gender & Sexuality Rights and invited by Rajya Sabha members to witness and support Transgender Persons Rights Bill 2015. At present, Madurai is legally assisting the lawyers to challenge the Gender Testing Policies in Sports under International Association of Atheltic Federation (IAAF) and International Olympic Committee (IOC). Ze is also part of the panel on Theological Reader on Gender & Sexuality for National Council of Churches in India and one the trustee of Tamil Nadu Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes Sports Association and youngest panelist to share chair in University Grants Commission of India and Indian Council of Social Sciences Research (ICSSR). Madurai conducted more than 100 Seminars, Interactive sessions on Gender & Sexuality for 30000 students. Ze coined the regional Tamil terms for Genderqueer people & wrote the first book on Gender-Variants in Tamil. Madurai also organized Asia's first Genderqueer Pride Parade, taught Genderqueer Theory and Indian Culture to faculties of many renowned colleges and universities.
Organisation: Srishti Madurai LGBTQIA Student Volunteer Collective, India
Hiker Chiu (they/them) is the founder of OII-Chinese since 2008. OII-Chinese is a platform for Chinese speaking intersex people to get information, awareness, connection and peer support and also an intersex human rights advocacy organization.
Hiker Chiu came out as an intersex person to raise intersex awareness publicly by initiating the "Global Free Hugs with Intersex Movement" in the 8th Taipei Pride Parade 2010. After coming out, Hiker has been contacted by more than one hundred Chinese speaking intersex people around the world.
Being the only Asian delegate in the first and second World Intersex Forums held by ILGA, Hiker decided to devote on building intersex connection in Asia. Hiker initiates "Intersex Asia" on Facebook to gather and incubate new intersex activists from Asia since 2013. Two years later Hiker called for the first Asian intersex activists gathering in the ILGA Asia 2015 Taipei and was elected as the first intersex co-chair of ILGA Asia. 2017 Hiker Chiu finally brings 6 Asian intersex activists to present at the 4th International Intersex Forum in Amsterdam.
Hiker is now a Ph.D. candidate of the Graduate school of Human Sexuality Shu-Te University in Taiwan.
Organisation: OII-Chinese, Taiwan
Minhee Ryu (she/her) is one of the members of Korean Lawyers for Public Interest and Human Rights “Hope and Law” and SOGILAW. The group has been providing litigation and support to legislation work for LGBTI rights advocacy in Korea, mainly on the issues of same-sex marriage/partnership, non-discrimination law, freedom of expression of LGBTI people and hate speech, legal recognition of transgender people.
Organisation: Korean Society of Law and Policy on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI LAW), South Korea
Linh (she/her) Program Officer from ICS Center - a non-profit organization working at the fore-font in promoting diversity and equality for LGBTI people in Vietnam. She has experience in organizing VietPride - biggest annual event of LGBTI community nationwide. She is also a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) alumni and a member of Vietnam LGBTQ Leadership Development (ViLEAD) program.
Currently, she is leading Work with Pride - the first initiative that promote Workplace Equality and Inclusion in Vietnam. Her responsibility is to increase the engagement of private sectors in the LGBTI movement through building the fundamental relationships, learning and understanding how private businesses behave, and increasing their awareness about LGBT movement in the country. She is also raising the visibility and participation of LGBTI community in governmental discussions of Labor Code Amendment. She is in the task force to lead Equal Marriage movement in Vietnam.
Organisation: ICS Center, Vietnam
Saw Zin Maung Soe (he) is one of an initiative leader of LGBTQIA Rights movement in Myanmar.
On May 10, 2011, he founded Civil Authorize Negotiate Organization (C.A.N-Myanmar), which is first ever Civil Rights (especially on LGBTQIA Rights) focused local non-governmental organization based in Mandalay, within Myanmar. Furthermore, Mr. Soe started Parents, Families, and Friends of LGBTQIA Myanmar (PFLAG-Myanmar) program since 2012 and he is a co-founder of Election Observers Network – Mandalay (EON-M) in 2013. Mr. Soe organized first ever LGBTQIA Rights Event the name of International Day against of Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in Myanmar since 2012 and he led numerous Human Rights and LGBTQIA Rights promotion and protection projects and programs in Myanmar with the multi-donor organizations.
He is an initiative person of civil rights movement in LGBTQIA community in Myanmar. Also, Mr. Soe is alumna of International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) organized by Beau of Cultural and Education, Department of State of United States of America and he received Honorary Citizen of The Great State of Nebraska from the government of Nebraska State, the USA for his performance of Human rights and LGBTQIA rights promotion in Myanmar since 2014. Additionally, Mr. Soe graduated B.A (Psychology) from International Institute of Social Studies –The Hague, Netherland, B.Sc (Bio-Chemistry) from Dagon University and B.A (Buddhism) from International Theravada Buddhist University- Yangon, Myanmar. Besides, Saw Zin Maung Soe is a Registered Business Analysis of American Academy of Financial Management, and recently, he was graduated International Executive MBA in International Business Management specialization with the title research of Analysis of Gender Discrimination on Entrepreneurs in Mandalay, Myanmar from Paris Graduate School of Management.
Organisation: Civil Authorize Negotiate Organization, Myanmar
Shakhawat Hossain (he/him) has been active as a gay-rights activist in Bangladesh since 2003. Considered as one of the first publicly out gay men, Hossain has been leading Boys of Bangladesh (BoB), the oldest and the largest platform of self-identified Bangladeshi gay men. Since its inception in late 2002, this non-registered, non-funded and completely volunteer-run organization has been at the forefront of the LGBT movement in Bangladesh.
Hossain has been a pioneering voice in advocating for LGBT rights and creating visibility of the community both at national and international level. He previously served as a task force member during the formative years of South Asian Human Rights Association (SAHRA - https://sahra.asia). Apart from activism, he had been a full-time journalist working with leading Bangladeshi newspapers such as the Daily Star and the Dhaka Tribune. Hossain is currently living in Stockholm, Sweden after being forced to leave Bangladesh on the face of death threats from extremists, State persecution and following the killings of his friends and gay activists Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy in 2016.
Organisation: Boys of Bangladesh (www.boysofbangladesh.org)