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Speeches & Transcripts August 15, 2018

Safeguarding the Rights of Populations with Respect to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Workshop

Good evening

Khun Pitikan Sitthidej, Director General, Rights and Liberties Protection Department, Ministry of Justice
Khun Angkhana Neelapaijit, Commissioner, Human Rights Commission of Thailand
Khun Pongthorn Chanlearn, SOGIE Representative, Gender Equality Promotion Committee
Mr. Tor Haug, Chargé d'affaires, Embassy of Norway
Mr. Heikki Karhu, First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Finland

Representatives from government agencies and civil society organizations. Thank you for joining us this evening. It is an honor to be here to meet many of you for the first time.  

I am very proud of the work that our team in Thailand, under Ulrich’s leadership and advocacy, have done to further understand Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Thailand. And I’m so pleased that today has provided an opportunity for us to evaluate together the lessons learned from a series of training workshops organized throughout Thailand to strengthen the capacity of government officials and civil society organizations on SOGI.

World Bank Group President Jim Kim stated clearly at the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia on May 17 this year that “No country, community, or economy can achieve its full potential – or meet the challenges of the 21st century – without the full and equal participation of all its people. Exclusion based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) is costly – to both the individuals concerned as well as a country’s economy and society as a whole. And that the World Bank Group stands with the LGBTI community and is working with countries to fill the LGBTI data gap and promote SOGI inclusion in development.”

With the generous support from the Nordic Trust Fund, the World Bank has supported research and data to enhance knowledge and data on LGBTI populations around the world.  In Thailand the recent World Bank Economic Inclusion report has identified key discriminations against LGBTI not only in access to economic opportunities but also to education and health services. I am pleased to learn that the government has proposed the research recommendations for policy discussions, and that the cooperation and collaboration among various partners under this project has led to the development of the SOGI training modules and handbooks that were used in the joint training workshops conducted for government officials and civil society organizations throughout the country. The activities under this partnership are fully in line with the objectives of President Kim and the World Bank Group – that is, to fill the data gap and promote SOGI inclusion in development.   

In recent years, the World Bank has set up mechanisms to work on SOGI issues including the establishment of a SOGI taskforce, the appointment of a SOGI advisor, Clifton Cortez, whom many of you have met. This has helped to guide the World Bank Group’s direction and strategy to integrate SOGI issues in our Systematic Country Diagnostic (SCD), which provide assessments of the most pressing challenges and opportunities in ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity in countries, Country Partnership Frameworks (CPF), and in our country gender action plans.  In East Asia and Pacific, SOGI aspects have already been integrated into SCDs, CPFs and country gender action plans in Thailand and Cambodia, and are in the process of being integrated in Myanmar. Research is being conducted in countries around the world to expand the evidence-base between LGBTI exclusion and development, which we will share and disseminate in Thailand in due course. We are also committed to diversity and inclusion inside the World Bank and are introducing internal trainings for staff on gender, SOGI and inclusion. 

Later this evening you will hear from Dr. Amara who will share the key lessons learned and recommendations for Thailand.  These lessons and recommendations are very important for all of us to move forward together to enhance evidence-base policy making and public awareness on SOGI that would hopefully lead Thailand to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Thailand’s commitment to “leave no one behind.”  

Once again, I would like to thank the Nordic Trust Fund – including representatives from all the embassies for their kind support.  Also, I want to thank all the partners – from line agencies, human rights commission, civil society and academia for their partnership, dedication and hard work, and finally, I would like to thank Dr. Amara Pongsapich and the SOGI team for their leadership and coordination efforts for all the activities.