History of ILGA Asia

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ILGA Asia is the Asian Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, representing more than 100 member organizations in East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and West Asia. The Region was first established in Mumbai in 2002. 

ILGA Asia Regional Conference is the highest level decision making body of ILGA Asia, taking place every other year, alternating with the ILGA World Conference.

In the past, there were numerous attempts to organize Asia regional ILGA events. Some of the first were the three small regional meetings organized by Teishiro Minami from Japan after he had attended the ILGA World Conference in Stockholm. The Asian Lesbian Network was formed in 1986 at the International Lesbian Information Service conference in Geneva. It went on to hold four conferences in Asia - Bangkok in 1991, Japan in 1993, Taiwan in 1995 and Manila in 1998.

The first ILGA Asia Regional Conference was held in Mumbai in 2002, attended by 80 individuals. However, tensions among participants resulted in highly acrimonious disputes and boycott of the 2002 Mumbai conference by half of the local organizations in India.

In 2004, the female co-secretary of ILGA World at the time, Anna Leah Sarabia from the Philippines, organized a small ILGA Asia Regional Conference in Cebu, during which Myo Min (from Myanmar, based in Thailand) and Myra Ofreneo (the Philippines) were chosen as the Asian representatives to the ILGA World board.

The next ILGA Asia Regional Conference was organized in Chiang Mai, Thailand in 2008 by Myo Min and Myra Ofreneo, with the support from two gay-run HIV/AIDS organizations, M-Plus based in Chiang Mai and Rainbow Sky Association from Bangkok. A hundred and twenty delegates attended the conference and for the first time, elected a board. They decided to establish an office in Hong Kong.

The 2010 ILGA Asia Regional Conference in Surabaya, East Java, Indonesia, was cancelled after delegates were already in the city, in the face of threats from the Islamic Defenders Front and other opponents. As the result, there was no election held that year.

The next ILGA Asia Regional Conference was organized by M-Plus and Rainbow Sky Association Thailand  in Bangkok from 29-31 March 2013. The theme “Phoenix Rising” symbolized the revival of ILGA Asia after the Surabaya incident.  A new board was elected. Delegates came from 22 countries with 25 new faces from Myanmar. The first ILGA Asia office was established in Hong Kong in 2014, with the support from Lala Alliance, and a full time coordinator was recruited.

In December 2017, the 7th Asian conference took place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with the host Rainbow Community Kampuchea (RoCK). The 5-day conference attracted 281 participants. With the theme “United for Love”, the conference wanted to symbolize the regional solidarity in a time when adversity against LGBTIQ community is taking place across Asia, including the murder of gay activists in Bangladesh, violence against trans people in Malaysia and the Philippines, police raids of community gathering in Iran and Indonesia, and government’s inaction or harmful policies towards community in Singapore. The conference brought up important and emerging issues in Asia, such as the marriage equality movement and the rising religious fundamentalism and state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia. The conference elected 10 members to the Asian Executive Board, 4 of whom are from the previous board. This was the first time the Asian board had the 2 West Asian representatives, trans representative and intersex representative. The Constitution was also amended to reflect the change of ILGA Asia office to Thailand among other things.