Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM), with the Robert Carr Foundation, implemented the Communication Causes Change (CCC) Project in Bangkok, Thailand this September, with 15 self-identified MSMs and TGs chosen from countries in Asia Pacific, such as Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Myanmar, India and Pakistan, trained on effective media and communications campaigns.
During the five-day training, the participants shared experiences, their own and their organizations’, on how it is to be gay, bisexual or transgender in their own country. Most of the participants raised the issue of conservative governments that limit the existence of members of the LGBT community through letters of law that hinder their freedom of expression. Section 377-A of Singapore’s Penal Code, for example, criminalizes sex between two consenting male adults; though this penal provision is also common to other Asian countries, such as India and Pakistan. Meanwhile, in Indonesia and Vietnam, the communities consider gay people and transwomen as second class citizens, so they cannot enjoy government services, such as health services and insurance, in their full extent.
The participants envision a common goal – that is to make the LGBT voices be heard in their country. They call for equality and harmony despite diversity – a liberation from the discriminating bondage the community caused. They view the social media as a tool to do just that.
The training presented the social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, in different angles. Through the expertise of speakers and facilitators, it showed how the social media can realistically alter the course of an individual’s or organization’s campaign for equality. They must observe the techniques and outwit the tricks of the Internet to make or break the campaign. There must be a proper observance of timing and proper choice of words to elicit action, or at least sympathy, from the target audience. There is a strategy in communications warfare for liberation.
Among the media campaigns developed during the training, the facilitators picked five that stood out. These are ID4TG of Indonesia, #ItsOK2BGay of India, “Our Love Aids” campaign of the Philippines, #BitchPlease of Vietnam, and “Can you see us?” campaign of Singapore.
This training will be organized again in The Pacific this October. The organizers also expect the participants to replicate the same training in their own communities.