The South Asia region is witnessing winds of change. Growing efforts are culminating in ending prejudice and empowering all citizens. The International Planned Parenthood Federation’s (IPPF) South Asia Regional Office is working closely with its Member Associations to script powerful breakthroughs that exemplify the protection and advancement of rights for people with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) – including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI+) people, and others who do not conform to the sexual and gender norms of society. As a global service provider and advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) for all, IPPF works with and for communities and individuals across countries. Its consistent efforts have advanced abortion rights; increased public support for sexuality education; countered the rolling back of SRHR in law and policy; and fought stereotypes linked to gender-based violence, amongst others.
The invisible nature of LGBTI+ narratives and overall misinformation surrounding people of diverse SOGIESC has necessitated the urgency to find more structured, relevant, and long-lasting mechanisms. IPPF South Asia Regional Office published a Situation Assessment in 2021 covering its Member Associations and Regional team. Findings shed light on key contextual and structural challenges to adopting more diverse SOGIESC-inclusive approaches. This included a mapping of restrictive legal and socio-cultural environments that rendered it challenging to advocate with state actors for rights of people with diverse SOGIESC. In mid-2021, each Member Association in the South Asia Region was requested to organize focus group discussions with select members of the community. India, Nepal and Sri Lanka shared their initiatives which were being supported by the Movement Accelerator Platform, Global Affairs Canada, and others. These initiatives are now paving the way for a more equitable and balanced environment where equal opportunities exist and can be accessed. Read about these initiatives in this booklet.