International conference in Hong Kong highlights the need for more LGBTI research to achieve equality, inclusion

May 10, 2018

Photo: Tsang Wing San

Inadequate data on the economic, political and social inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people is resulting in a lack of effective policies to promote equality and access to social services. This situation must change in order to advance progress, said participants at a global research conference that began today in Hong Kong.  

About 100 participants are attending the groundbreaking international conference on 'Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status Research: Data Collection, Analysis, Social and Policy Engagement', being held from 9-10 May 2018, including academic and community-based researchers, government experts, national human rights institutions and United Nations partners from around the world.

The conference aims to serve as a platform to demonstrate how countries can build multi-sector partnerships and invest in LGBTI-related research and data collection initiatives to better inform policymakers, service providers and the general public.

“Empirical evidence about LGBTI people changes minds and lives,” said Prof. Suen Yiu-tung, Director, Sexualities Research Programme, Chinese University of Hong Kong, and chairperson of the conference organizing committee.

“This historic conference will inspire different stakeholder groups to do LGBTI research to effect real-world changes.”

Over the two-day conference, scholars and community-based researchers are sharing some of the challenges and opportunities of conducting research related to sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status in a cross-cultural context, with specific examples from Asia.

“We need an LGBTI data revolution to understand LGBTI inequality and what to do about it. This conference will help us get there,” Lee Badgett, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and conference organizing committee member said.

While the availability and quality of data has generally been insufficient, participants noted a positive trend towards the development of empirical data on the inequalities faced by LGBTI people in society. This will help to provide a more effective, evidence-informed approach to LGBTI inclusion.

“Strategic partnerships between government, academia and civil society, along with adequate financial investments in research, are essential to inform national policies and advance the inclusion of LGBTI people,” said Edmund Settle, Policy Advisor at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Asia Pacific and a conference organizing committee member.

Conference participants came from Atlanta, Auckland, Bangkok, Beijing, Boston, Colombo, Cork, Dhaka, Dili, Geneva, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Kingston, London, Los Angeles, Manila, New York, Panama City, Perth, Phnom Penh, Quezon City, Santo Domingo, Shanghai, Suva, Sydney and Washington DC.

The conference was co-organized by the Sexualities Research Programme and Gender Studies Programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, with support from the University’s Faculty of Social Science Conference Grant, and UNDP.

For more information, visit:

Contact information

The Chinese University of Hong, Sexualities Research Programme
Eliz Wong | +852 6575 6357 |
Hong Kong

UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub
Ian Mungall | +66 909710908 |
Bangkok, Thailand

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