On 29 October 2010, Institut Pelangi Perempuan, the Indonesian Youth Lesbian Center, launched the Yogyakarta Principles comic strip in Jakarta. This unconventional initiative taken to disseminate a human rights tool to young people raised our curiosity…..
Kamilia is a young feminist and lesbian activist, in her late 20s. She founded Institut Pelangi Perempuan (Indonesian Youth Lesbian Center) in 2006 and is currently the Executive Director of the organization. In January 2008, she was elected as a Board Member of ILGA Asia to represent youth LGBTIQ of Asia. She was elected as “LGBT People to Watch 2010” by Fridae.com, the biggest LGBTIQ website in Asia.
Interview of Kamilia by Patricia Curzi
How did you and your organization have the idea to illustrate the Yogyakarta Principles using a comic strip?
In our organization we work a lot with young LGBTIQ people; and we believe that it is important for them to know their rights, to understand and implement the principles of Yogyakarta. We have asked some youth if they knew about the principles and how easy they were to understand. Most of them replied that the principles are too difficult; the human rights language is too complicated, and the principles are laid out in a very legal language. It was important for us to spread the information, and we started thinking of a way to make the principles more accessible to our youth in Indonesia. Our experience is that not many young people are interested in human rights, and maybe this is due to the difficult and technical language used. We started by creating and compiling true stories in a comic that would be easier for them to understand and that would use pictures as a learning tool. It is important to use a communication tool appropriate for the message you wish to convey and the target group you wish to reach.
Which was the most difficult principle to illustrate and why?
We did not illustrate all the 29 principles; we just selected several principles that are related to the life of young LGBTIQ people, such as the right to education, the right to equality and non discrimination or the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Maybe in the future we could extend the project and illustrate all 29 principles.
Don’t you think that a communication tool usually used for entertainment will reduce the powerful message contained in the 29 principles?
Not at all! Our motto in our organization is “EDUFUNTAIMENT”: Education, Fun, Entertainment. Most of the time we use entertainment and fun in our work as well as creating informal fun space like sports club (badminton and boxing club) as support groups. We use pop, theatre, drag king and drag queen shows, traditional and modern dances but we never forget the message we want to pass. Using entertainment is helpful to send the message to our target group, because we would like to try more “pop” strategy for young LGBTIQ empowerment to change traditional strategy of activism. We are mostly young people, and our experience is that it is difficult to join long discussions or seminars. It is important to do campaign of LGBTIQ rights, so EDUFUNTAINMENT is a great educational tool. So far we are successful. We also have Anak Pelangi club. The club is an art and culture performance club for LGBTIQ people, where they are trained for performing campaigns on LGBTIQ rights.
How did your organization use the Yogyakarta Principles comic strip so far?
We introduced the comic in different cities in Indonesia, and the launch itself happened in different cities in Jakarta, Bandung and Yogyakarta. With those launch events we again used art and performance: dances, pop, theatre, drag king and drag queen shows. Interestingly enough, a young lesbian community in the city in Bandung is now willing to establish organizations for young LBT women. This is proof that we managed to build confidence among young people. We have also spread the Yogyakarta comic to other human rights activists and to progressive and moderate religious groups who support LGBTIQ groups. During our launch in several cities we worked together with the local human rights groups as the anticipation effort for advocacy support of the threat and attack from fundamentalist groups on our event. We found out that not many human rights activists are aware of the Yogyakarta Principles, so it was also a process of introducing the Yogyakarta Principles to them. To our surprise, we received various proposals from the international network to have the comic translated in their local language and to use the comic locally to organize the work for young LGBTIQ people in their countries. We received requests from activists in Brazil, Argentina, China, Thailand, Taiwan, Turkey, Japan and Pakistan. We also promoted the comic at the UN level by presenting it at an ILGA panel on the need to improve access to education and work for LGBTIQ people on 55th Commission on the Status of Women meeting.
Now that you are into innovation and artistic initiatives, any plans to prepare a film based on the comic?
Actually, yes! It is our big dream at the moment: why not have another educational tool on LGBTIQ rights using a video campaign? We are now in the ICT era (Information, Communication, Technology); we can upload a film on Youtube and spread it via internet and reach activists throughout the world. We definitely should use more ICT tools to reach our goals!
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