The knowledge that people in other places share the same experiences physically, emotionally, and socially is liberating and offers the opportunity to share practical information. This holds especially true for gay and lesbian people around the world as they face overt and frequent social and political barriers and alienation. In Gays and Lesbians in Asia and the Pacific, people from Australia, Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore share their unique experiences of the gay and lesbian communities and available social services. Unlike previous writings on homosexuality in the region, written by Westerners, this book offers new perspectives from "insiders" of the cultures who speak from their own lived experiences. The chapters show the changing situations in each country and provide insight into the contemporary issues surrounding gay and lesbian life in these countries.
The authors of Gays and Lesbians in Asia and the Pacific collectively address the issues of self-recognition, legal status, freedom of choice, health, and social and information needs in the context of gay and lesbian people in particular cultures. They are concerned with forms of social services rather than sexual practices or institutionalized or traditional expressions of homosexuality. Topics covered include:
- social services and health care accessibility for gay men and lesbians
- the impact of AIDS on gay life
- law enforcement, police harassment, and the decriminalization of homosexuality
- gay rights
- gay and lesbian families and communities
- the gay press in Japan and Asia
Gays and Lesbians in Asia and the Pacific is a timely and important contribution to the study of contemporary issues related to homosexuality, broadening the focus from local matters to a regional perspective. It stresses the need, in many parts of the Asia-Pacific region for legal reform and changes in social attitudes toward homosexuality, not only to remove sodomy statutes where they exist, but also to ensure freedom from discrimination, equality of opportunity, parenting and inheritance rights, and the whole host of issues which Western gay rights activists pursue.
The book's focus on AIDS is a reflection of the emergence of AIDS as a social phenomenon which makes new demands on the gay community and offers new avenues for the development of gay and lesbian social services. Chapters focus on AIDS as providing a window of opportunity for gay organizations to be active in countries where there is strong government or social disapproval of homosexuality. One given example is Singapore, where gay and lesbian organizations are allowed to function as long as they are officially recognized as providing services such as AIDS prevention and education or safe sex promotion.
Readers of Gays and Lesbians in Asia and the Pacific will understand a great deal more about the day-to-day experiences of homosexuals in the Asia-Pacific region. The book is a helpful tool for sociologists, anthropologists, social workers, and those in the social sciences aiming to broaden their understanding of the gay experience. It may also be important reading material for students of Gay and Lesbian Studies, Asian Studies, public health, social work, anthropology, and sociology.