LGBTQ+ rights are under attack in a number of Asian countries, not least China, where the LGBTQ+ community is feeling the brunt of restrictions on civil society. Meanwhile, progress in other counties including Japan has been slow.
The Institute of Current World Affairs held a Zoom webinar discussion on April 5, 2023 with David Mixner, Chantale Wong, Yanhui Peng, Fabrice Houdart and Edric Huang about the state of LGBTQ+ issues in Asia and its implications for US foreign policy. They also addressed what local queer communities can learn from developments in China and Taiwan, and how the private sector can build momentum for progress.
David Mixner, whom Newsweek once named the most powerful gay man in America, has been a highly regarded leader in American politics and international human rights for over 40 years, as well as a best-selling author. A sought-after keynote speaker around the globe, Mixner has lectured at Oxford, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and the London School of Economics.
Mixner is a civil rights activist and HIV/AIDS advocate. He is the author of the memoir Stranger Among Friends, Brave Journeys: Profiles in Gay and Lesbian Courage and At Home with Myself: Stories from the Hills of Turkey Hollow.
Ambassador Chantale Wong has had a long and distinguished career in public service, and has been a leader-participant in some of the most significant events in US history. She was a senior vice president at technology startup firm Amida Technology Solutions, where she focused on solving data interoperability challenges. She was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Vice President for Administration and Finance and the CFO at the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Prior to MCC, she was the budget director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), where she realigned the budget function to the requirements of NASA’s post-space shuttle missions. During her career, Wong has held leadership positions at the Office of Management and Budget, Departments of Treasury and Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency, in addition to NASA.
Yanhui Peng (aka Yanzi) is the founder and director of LGBT Rights Advocacy China and a visiting scholar at Yale Law School. He founded LGBT Rights Advocacy China in 2013 to advance LGBT equality through litigation against conversion therapy, employment discrimination, media censorship and homophobic university textbooks. In 2019, Peng and his colleagues started a campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in China’s Civil Code.
Peng is one of the five Grand Marshals of NYC Pride. From 2007 to 2013, he was a program manager at Sun Yat-Sen University’s Institute for Civil Society, and in 2019 he was a visiting scholar at the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law. At the Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center, Peng is researching the parental rights of LGBT people.
Edric Huang was recently appointed ICWA’s David Mixner LGBTQ+ Fellow. He will take up his fellowship later this year, immersing himself in queer communities across Taiwan, examining coalition-building amid pluralistic identity politics, legal battles and geopolitical pressures. A Princeton graduate, he is currently a Schwarzman scholar studying at Tsinghua University, pursuing a master’s in global affairs at the intersection of migration and climate change.
Former ICWA trustee Fabrice Houdart is the Executive Director of The Association of LGBTQ+ Corporate Directors. Previously, he was Human Rights Officer at the UN Organization for Human Rights, part of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR.) He is based in New York and works on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. He also served as UN Senior Country Officer for the Maghreb (Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Malta, Libya) and as Task Manager for a Nordic Trust Fund grant, “Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Development” at the World Bank. Fabrice has also served in a leadership capacity, as past President of World Bank GLOBE, the Bank’s LGBT employee resource group.
During his career at the World Bank, he worked in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, initially as a human development consultant and later in country management units.