Opening speech by Ts. Oyungerel, Member of Parliament, Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism of Mongolia
The Mongolia Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Dialogue
Ulaanbaatar - The Mongolia National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Dialogue was held in UN House on 20-21 March 2014. The LGBT Dialogue was attended by over 80 representatives of various stakeholders, including Government officials, LGBT human rights advocates, civil society activists, researchers and academics. The Dialogue is being organized as part of the regional ‘Being LGBT in Asia’ initiative being undertaken by UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre and USAID Regional Development Mission Asia, both based in Bangkok, Thailand.
In her opening remarks, Sezin Sinanoglu, UN Resident Coordinator, acknowledged the initiatives taken in Mongolia in the past years in protecting LGBT rights: the Pride Week and DemoCrazy Carnival organized in 2013 were innovative ways of raising awareness among the general public, while various research studies, including the study conducted by the NHRCM and submissions to UPR on LGBT rights, contributed to bringing LGBT issues to the attention of policymakers.
Ts.Oyungerel, Minister for Culture, Sports and Tourism, shared the story about the legal registration of the first LGBT organization in Mongolia, and stressed that LGBT issues need to be mainstreamed in every sphere of human life, including culture, sports and tourism. She also highlighted that enhancing acceptance and understanding of family members and friends of LGBT persons is an issue of culture, which needs to be addressed.
Participants of the Dialogue discussed health, education, employment, family, media and culture related issues that LGBT people face, achievements, and opportunities to make positive changes in legal and social environment that promote human rights of LGBT people. For example, in the education sector, it is remarkable that younger generation now has much better sexuality education than the previous generations; however, teachers need more training to teach sexual orientation and gender identity. Health issues of transgender girls and women are not researched at all. Employers are reluctant to hire transgender women, simply because of their appearance.
The U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia, Piper Anne Wind Campbell, released the following statement before the Dialogue: "I commend Mongolia on hosting this National Dialogue promoting the human rights of LGBT persons. There are many in Mongolia who are committed to ensuring that LGBT people are able to exercise their human rights without interference. This dialogue is an important step in that process - to identify the challenges that the LGBT community faces and provide recommendations to improve the social and legal environment here in Mongolia. President Obama has made it a diplomatic priority for the United States to promote and protect the human rights of people who are LGBT, and we at the U.S. Embassy are committed to working with the Mongolian government and the LGBT community to work towards a future without discrimination."
The dialogue will feed into a report on the situation of LGBT people in Mongolia. This report will then inform a regional dialogue on LGBT issues to be held in Thailand in June 2014. It is also hoped that the dialogue and the report will better inform LGBT human rights programming in the future in Mongolia.