What does it mean to be ‘queer’ and Asian?


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK – a fitting backdrop to consider the impact of colonialism on understanding gender and sexuality in Asia and the diaspora.

Our focus can be whittled down to a central idea – the idea of desire – what ‘queers’ want. Many LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) individuals face discrimination and persecution in differing Asian contexts, be it through colonial era laws, prejudicial attitudes and/or cultural norms.

And what influence does pressure from the international community play? Recent cases occurring at both legal and social levels have garnered substantial global media coverage (such as in Iraq, Indonesia, and Singapore).

However, legislative developments, such as the recent same-sex marriage ruling in Taiwan and the passing of transgender rights bills in India, signal changes and tensions for varying Asian communities, demonstrating the need for comparative research and collaborative activism that addresses the similarities and differences across Asia.

Expressions of desire, whether sexual or social, find new means of expression across contexts and among diverse communities (including in the diaspora), which challenge ‘Western’ bodies of knowledge of gender and sexuality and add to an understanding of what it means to be ‘queer’ and Asian across the globe.

At the upcoming Queer Asia 2017 conference at SOAS, over 60 presenters and performers from 25 different countries will unite to discuss the myriad issues that face the Asian LGBTQ community.

Want to be a part of it? Then join us on 16/17 June. Register for free.

Connect with QA 2017 on Twitter and Facebook.

Find out more:

This blog forms part of a series on LGBTQI+ issues in Asia, authored by or for Queer Asia, a network of queer identifying scholars, academics, activists, artists and performers working on issues affecting people self-identifying as LGBTQ+ or belonging to other non-normative sexualities and gender identities in Asia, Asian diasporas and beyond. For regular updates, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Share this post