Community, identity, orientation: sexuality, gender and rights in ASEAN
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The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) escalated its community building project significantly over the last decade, culminating in the launch of a reformed and substantially integrated ASEAN Community at the end of 2015. This article considers what might follow from this newly reformed and rhetorically people-focused version of ASEAN for matters of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE). In claiming to be people-oriented and people-centred, and by developing a regional rights regime, ASEAN opens itself to standards by which it can be measured and held to account. We critically review ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together, and consider civil society's response, focusing on the critique offered by the ASEAN SOGIE Caucus, the peak civil society organisation for ASEAN SOGIE matters. We focus on three themes: identity, visibility politics, and rights. We argue that while ASEAN falls short of its own rhetorical standards, these same standards support a politics which keeps rights in contestation, enabling civil society to push for accountability to international standards, and a more democratic politics.
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