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Queering Solidarity: Civil Society at the Fringes of ASEAN Regionalism and Alternatives for the LGBTQ+

The neoliberal politics governing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) diplomacy has pushed this intergovernmental body to close its doors from civil society further. This deficit of political will to engage substantially with civil society puts the member-state's credibility into question as they proclaim to work for a people-oriented, people-centered regionalism. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and individuals (LGBTQ+) not falling into the categorical matrix of capitalist social reproduction-that of the heterosexual family-continue to face discrimination, harassment, and even death under the ineptness of Southeast Asian governments and ASEAN as an intergovernmental body. Marginalized sectors, such as workers, farmers, indigenous peoples (IPs), and women, share similar and differing plights. The current situation, thus, deserves a rethinking at the onset of this already shrinking democratic space for civil society. This paper champions the possibility of an alternative regional integration that emerges from the collective efforts of diverse Southeast Asian peoples and formations against the hegemonic development paradigm, which has left the LGBTQ+ far behind. In criticizing the ASEANs heteronormative neoliberal framework, the researchers suggest that solidarity with other sectors must be and is becoming central to LGBTQ+ and sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and sexual characteristics (SOGIESC)-based advocacy in Southeast Asia using the frame that links neoliberalism and homophobia. This paper closes by showcasing cases of alternative practices that contribute to realizing an alternative regionalism that emphasizes civil society, including and celebrating the LGBTQ+.


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