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Asia Undercovered #3 – LGBTQ rights in Asia and a Huge Election Shock

Asia Undercovered #3 – LGBTQ rights in Asia and a Huge Election Shock

Welcome  to Asia Undercovered, journalist Nithin Coca’s take on the most  important, stories from across Asia which don’t get enough attention in  US media.

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Not getting enough attention: LGBTQ+ rights in Asia

Who will be the first country in Asia to allow gay marriage? A year ago, it seemed certain it would be Taiwan, but the vocal opposition of the small, evangelical minority may force the country to put same-sex marriage up to vote.

Could it be Nepal? Their constitution is the first one in the world to recognize a third gender and legalizing gay marriage is on the agenda there too.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong now allows visas for same-sex couples, while Singapore remains anti-LGBT, and in countries like Indonesia, there is even backsliding taking place.

Also ignored: Maldives Election Shock

The Maldives – an island archipelago nation in the Indian Ocean – held Presidential elections earlier this week. Incumbent President Yameen Abdul Gayoom was widely expected to win, due partly to his close ties to China, which has been investing heavily in the nation. But in a surprising result, opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won in a landslide. It’s the second election this year in which being too pro-China played a factor in a shocking electoral defeat, after Malaysia.

Read Shashank Bengali’s excellent take for the Los Angeles Times on the importance of the Maldives results, or Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan analysis for The Diplomat.

As elections approach in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Taiwan, it’ll be interesting to watch what role China and Chinese investment plays in those races.

Other important news

It’s not just America’s that under threat of electoral hacking – Taiwan is bracing for a tsunami of cyberattacks ahead of regional elections, coming chiefly from it’s giant neighbor, China.

While the United States is cracking down on immigration (to our own detriment), Japan – a country famous for its aversion to outsiders, is now accepting migrants at a record pace and wants to bring even more in to fill a massive labor shortage. Sarah Lee Stones explores this for Global Voices.

Pakistan spoke up for the Uyghurs...then it didn’t. This is despite the fact that there are even wives of Pakistani citizens caught up in China’s concentration camps, as Memphis Barker reported in The Guardian.

And Bangladesh – which had a series of protests that I highlighted in my first issue of Asia Undercovered, is seeing it’s government crack down on dissent even more, passing a digital security bill that could harm freedom of press in the country. All ahead of crucial elections later this year that still aren’t getting any attention in the US media.

And in Hong Kong, where I happen to currently be, a pro-independence political party has been officially banned, the latest setback for democratic hopes in the territory. Read Kris Cheng’s story to learn more. It’s in Hong Kong Free Press, a non-profit newsroom which has been doing an excellent job covering local politics.

The head of state of a country of nearly 100 million died. That was Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang. He was only 61. But considering he oversaw severe repression of human rights and press freedom, not everyone is mourning.

Until Next Week,

Nithin Coca

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