[NQAPIA is hosting this statement in support of Queers for Justice in India. For any press inquiries, please contact Tara Gonsalves (firstname.lastname@example.org).]
LGBTQ Indians Pressure Apple, Google, and Facebook to #ChallengeModi this Weekend on Homophobic Law
LGBTQ Indian Americans and their allies are calling on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to challenge Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to overturn India’s homophobic Victorian-era law when Modi visits Silicon Valley this weekend. A petition asking these CEOs, previously vocal supporters of LGBTQ rights in the United States, to #ChallengeModi on his institutionalized homophobia has gathered nearly one thousand signatures. On the afternoon of Sunday September 27, over one thousand people are expected to protest Modi’s human rights record in San Jose, California.
Facebook, Apple, and Google claim to be LGBTQ-friendly. Cook, a global LGBTQ role model, said he would challenge anti-LGBTQ legislation “wherever it emerges.” Zuckerberg describes Facebook as “a proud supporter of Pride,” and sports a rainbow-colored profile photo. All three companies have challenged DOMA, supported marriage equality, and provided benefits for LGBTQ employees before they were legally mandated to do so.
However, these same CEOs are now turning their backs on LGBTQ Indians, as well as their own LGBTQ employees and allies, by welcoming the controversial Indian politician, previously banned from the United States for complicity with genocide, and now refusing to take a position on Section 377, the homophobic 1860 law imposed on India by British colonizers.
Repressive laws take a toll on individuals. Sundar, a gay Indian man working in Silicon Valley, says that “due to progressive workplace policies in the valley I can be my authentic self at work. Back home in India, in contrast, the specter of 377 looms over me, my friends, and my family. We constantly fear the threat of harassment, blackmail and extortion. I hope that Silicon Valley stands up for the rights of their Indian LGBTQ employees and that PM Modi takes a stand to end the Victorian-era British law that criminalizes tens of millions of LGBTQ Indians.”
“India’s Penal Code 377 provides an avenue for harassment, extortion, and abuse of LGBTQ Indians,” says Monica Davis, Queer South Asian activist and former Trikone Chairwoman, the San Francisco Bay Area’s South Asian LGBTQ advocacy group. “If Google, Facebook, and Apple were supportive of LGBTQ rights during San Francisco Pride, they should also demonstrate support now.” Adds Suhas, Outreach Director at Trikone, “I would like to appeal to Prime Minister Modi to follow Nepal’s footsteps in including LGBTQ rights in the constitution.”
When human rights violators come to visit, we call on the CEOs of Apple, Google, and Facebook, who wield enormous influence in the global political economy, to take a stand for global LGBTQ rights. To sign the petition, visit www.ChallengeModi.com.
Caption: Alain and other members of the NQAPIA family at the 2011 Community Catalyst Awards (from L-R: Glenn Magpantay, Alain Dang, Ben de Guzman, Sarath Suong, Kohei Ishihara, Sin Yen Ling, Chris Punongbayan)
The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) family suffered a tragic loss on Tuesday, February 5, when Alain Dang passed away. Alain’s leadership and nationally respected network was instrumental in the early conversations that helped bring together the LGBT Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations from around the country for our initial convening in 2005. Indeed, he was part of NQAPIA before there was an NQAPIA.
As an undergraduate at UC Irvine and during his graduate studies at UCLA, Alain cut his political teeth doing organizing as part of the United States Student Association. Moving to New York, he became involved in the queer AAPI scene and joined the Steering Committee of Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York. With GAPIMNY, he joined leaders from AAPI LGBT organizations around the country for a convening at the 2005 Creating Change conference that formed what would become NQAPIA. He joined our first duly constituted Board and served until 2011. He continued to be involved in the community through his leadership in Asian Pacific Islander Equality- Northern California and in local politics when he moved back to Cupertino, CA.
Alain’s commitment to social justice was long-standing, but his legacy to the AAPI LGBT community and our movement is indelible. As part of NQAPIA’s initial Board, he will remain a part of our “origin story” and the work we do bears his thumb print. His other lasting legacy to the community is his body of work during his time at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Along with current NQAPIA Co-Chair Mandy Hu, the two co-authored an initial study of AAPI LGBT people and their experiences with discrimination. With Vaid Fellow Cabrini Vianney, he went on to publish a larger study, which remains one of, if not the benchmark analysis of the AAPI LGBT community and its strengths and challenges. “Living in the Margins: A National Survey of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Asian and Pacific Islander Americans” surveyed almost 900 respondents and was cutting edge in its commitment to capturing the diversity of the community by its distribution in Chinese, Hindi, Korean, and Vietnamese, as well as in English. NQAPIA supported the study by partnering with the Task Force in mobilizing our membership to build the base of respondents. Multilingual regional fact sheets and an executive summary accompanied the report, which put hard numbers to the priorities of the AAPI LGBT community and documented pervasive rates of discrimination and harassment. To this day, the study continues to be the baseline on which our understanding of the community and the work we do in service and advocacy, is based.
NQAPIA’s leadership issued the following statement:
“Alain is remembered as an example of what an activist should be: smart in his analysis, fierce in his convictions, gentle in spirit, and fun and sassy while dancing in the movement. He will be forever a part of NQAPIA’s DNA through his work and his service. The AAPI LGBT community will continue to benefit from his life and work, and we are all the better for knowing him. We send our love and condolences to his family, and recommit ourselves to the values we shared and worked for together with him.”
– Joy Messinger, NQAPIA Board Co-Chair, Mandy Hu, NQAPIA Board Co-Chair, Glenn Magpantay, NQAPIA Co-Director for Development and Ben de Guzman, NQAPIA Co-Director for Programs
Caption: (from L-R) Alain Dang, Ben de Guzman, and Doreena Wong at the 2007 Launch of “Living in the Margins”
Caption: Alain Dang at the 2008 NQAPIA Leadership Training and Issue Briefing
Today’s blog post is brought to you courtesy of NQAPIA Volunteer Luella Garies. Enjoy!
NQAPIA is celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) today on May 17. According to the official website, IDAHO was created in 2004 by an international group of activists to raise global awareness of this issue and encourage people to take action. The date of May 17 was chosen to commemorate the World Health Organization’s decision in 1990 to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder. IDAHO is now celebrated in over 100 countries around the world and throughout Asia, including in Cambodia, Burma, South Korea, the Philippines, India, and Indonesia.
With homosexuality still illegal in Malaysia, Burma, Singapore and Samoa, with basic federal protections against employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity still elusive in the United States, with same-sex marriage not legalized in most of the U.S. or anywhere in Asia or the Pacific except for New Zealand, and with the majority of Asian/Pacific countries having no laws at all protecting trans/gender non-conforming people, IDAHO is very relevant to our community today.
Recognition of IDAHO in the United States is still growing. There are a couple of major things happening in the LGBTQ AAPI communities that coincide with / follow IDAHO that we want you to know about.
- D.C.’s 13th Annual Pride & Heritage Celebration on Saturday, May 18th. Pride & Heritage is a coalition of local organizations celebrating May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and will intentionally recognize IDAHO. Participants include Asian Pacific Islander Queer Sisters (APIQS), Asian lslander Queers United for Action (AQUA), KhushDC, and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF-DC). This year the event will honor local community leaders Danny Leung, Mala Nagarajan, Vega Subramaniam, and Lan Van.
- Additional social events are happening this weekend in New York with Q-WAVE and in Los Angeles with GAPSN.
How will you get involved in IDAHO?
On September 19, NQAPIA joined a standing room only audience (which spilled over into an overflow room) to witness the Senate Hearing on Hate Crimes and Domestic Extremism. The hearing focused on hate crimes, particularly in the aftermath of the devastating shooting of a Sikh gurdwara (temple) in Oak Creek, WI.
NQAPIA submitted testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will now be included in the proceedings from the Hearing. The testimony is below.
Included as part of its testimony is the joint statement of solidarity from the LGBT community that NQAPIA drafted and was signed by over 30 national and local LGBT organizations from around the country.
Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights
815 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Re: Hearing, September 19, 2012, Hate Crimes and the Threat of Domestic Extremism
Dear Subcommittee Members:
The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) applauds the Subcommittee on holding today’s hearing on this very important topic. Events around the country and abroad have put these issues of intolerance and extremism at the top of the news, and we think it is important to call for reasoned voices and non-violence to address the issues of the day. As a federation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations, we know the impact of violence in our communities because we are subject to the intersections of racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and anti-religious sentiment.
The unconscionable rise of violence in recent months that has devastated our communities has made these intersections and their impacts real for NQAPIA and the communities we serve. The South Asian LGBT organizations we work with tell us all too real stories about discrimination and bigotry they face, not only because of the color of their skin and their religious traditions, but also because of how they live their lives as LGBT people in their families and communities. Our work with faith partners such as the Queer Muslim Working Group reveals the impact that not only anti-Muslim sentiment from religious fundamentalists has on our communities, but the impact of homophobia and transphobia as well.
NQAPIA drafted an LGBT sign-on letter that over 30 local and national organizations joined in solidarity with the victims of the August 5 shooting at the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, WI and the August 6 fire at a mosque in Joplin, MO to specifically articulate the impact that such violence has on us as LGBT communities (that letter is included here as part of our statement of record). The debates around extremism and violence only became more fraught with urgency when a gunman shot at the Family Research Council a few short days later and we joined another statement from the LGBT community to oppose violence as a means of resolving differences.
Hate crimes continue to be a serious problem. Recent FBI statistics that document over 6,600 hate crimes may actually be undercounting the severity of the problem. A 2005 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics suggests that the actual figures may be as high as 15 times what is being reported. The domestic extremism that opens up the political and cultural space to somehow rationalize violence and hate crimes has no place in our communities. We know that religious freedom and First Amendment protections are not mutually exclusive and that both can and must be held in balance to ensure our civil liberties.
Violent acts that target people for the characteristics that make them different defy the pluralism that makes America thrive. The intersections of hate violence and domestic extremism are complex and we commend you for taking this on. They encompass a range of issues related to homophobia, xenophobia, and anti-religious sentiment both locally, and in an international context. We urge the Committee to make findings on the causes of and solutions to this violence and to take action to prevent hate before it is too late to act. The times that we live in demand solutions that think big and refuse to oversimplify and we stand ready to work with you to create and implement those solutions.
Ben de Guzman
Co-Director for Programs
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance
e: info (at) nqapia (dot) org