SOGIESC Workshop_feature

The LinQ Foundations’ SOGIESC inclusion inspires media to help sensitize SOGIESC with individuals.

Chiang Mai City, March 11th and 12th 2023_The LinQ Foundation, in coordination with the Queer Education Group, organized a two-day SOGIESC awareness workshop with sixteen media outlets from Myanmar.   

The LinQ Foundation’s vision is to build resilience to achieve equality for LGBTQ individuals and others, particularly from vulnerable communities in Thailand and Myanmar, positioning SOGIESC inclusion as a gateway to connect queers and non-queers. The LinQ sees media as critical for promoting social inclusion, tolerance, and respect for diversity.  

On the first day of the workshop, the president of the Board of Directors of the LinQ Foundation, Mr. Pong Thorn Canlearn, in his opening remarks mentioned, “LGBTQ persons are not strange people; an LGBTQ person can be an artist, a journalist, a political leader, a teacher, a nurse, a businessperson, or another professional – you name it. Even so, LGBTQ people experience discrimination and other human rights violations daily. If you search for data, you will find that LGTBQ individuals are in a higher percentage of suicide cases and mental health issues worldwide. They have pressure from their families, the society, and their country.  

Understanding SOGIESC is humanity. SOGIESC is a door to seeing life from an LGBTQ person’s perspective. We all are here with the mindset of society, and our actions aim to protect life and health and ensure respect for human beings. The LinQ is here for humanity.”   

This workshop began with a SOGIESC awareness session conducted by a trainer from Queer Education – a session that revealed an in-depth definition of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Expression, and Sex Characteristics. A journalist reflected on learning and said, “I received no training on LGBTQ or SOGIESC awareness in the past. I have many friends who are LGBTQ. In my opinion, I thought I accepted them well. Still, I did not understand their emotion or sexual orientation, as we had no open discussion. When my friends, who I thought were straight when we were younger, opened up about being LGBTQ, it was hard for me to believe, and I wondered what had happened to them. But now, this workshop opens my mind to understanding their emotions, and sexual orientation, and these terms mean”     

On day two, the workshop invited media representatives to discuss how LGBTQ-related news is reported in the media widely and the challenges of writing LGBTQ-related reports or articles, which include media attitude towards LGBTQ, words choice, type of news that media portray LGBTQ utmost, and how media approach LGBTQ individual for the information. A reporter added, “Some people still see LGBTQ living beyond nature or disgusting. When we wrote about LGBTQ before – we used to describe them with homosexual words only. After joining this workshop, I don’t just look at the appearance of LGBTQ people but the aspects of how they see, feel, and want to be called. I discover how we can express or write about them. We can raise their voice better by writing different categories or different means of LGBTQ rather than just using the word homosexual.”    

In addition, the workshop identified the challenges and the needs of journalists and reporters in writing about LGBTQ-related news and articles. According to the participants reporters, significant obstacles for reporters remain as direct communications with LGBTQ personnel to interview and receive the information and resources related to SOGIESC and LGBTQ and some media outlets’ limited interest in LGBTQ-related news. 

An interesting point was raised by one of the journalists: Sometimes the source of information doesn’t come directly from an LGBTQ person, but rather from an intermediary person who doesn’t know how to use appropriate and respectful terms to qualify LGBTQ persons and their SOGIESC. It then becomes challenging if the journalist must quote this middle person as proper terms may be omitted. Lastly, the media representatives request resources to write about LGBTQ, including evidence-based data, research, and information.  

Two media representatives who joined the workshop identified as LGBTQ, and 70 percent of them had experience writing LGBTQ news and articles. One LGBTQ reporter even share his personal experience, “I am an LGBTQ individual and don’t feel comfortable being called my name (feminine name). Because I haven’t had any hormone injections, I always sound like a woman over the call. When people call me Ms., I feel annoyed that people are unaware of my gender. Now I openly come out at my work and with my friends. I am also very grateful to know about SOGIESC.”  

Like many other countries, Myanmar has witnessed increased discrimination and violence against individuals based on their SOGIESC. Across the country, discrimination and harassment are rampant, and individuals who do not conform to binary gender norms are often subjected to harassment, stigma, and violence. The role of media in sensitizing individuals on SOGIESC in Myanmar has never been more critical. Media, if used effectively, can act as a tool for promoting social inclusion, tolerance, and respect for diversity.  

The SOGIESC awareness workshop with media will be a regular event of the LinQ Foundation for sustained, continuous learning and integration of SOGIESC inclusion in media.

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