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GetEqual app helps Southeast Asia LGBTQ+ gig workers find new jobs

A delivery driver makes a food delivery in Singapore March 9, 2021. REUTERS/Joseph Campbell

A delivery driver makes a food delivery in Singapore March 9, 2021. REUTERS/Joseph Campbell

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A mobile app in Southeast Asia aims to provide more job opportunities for LGBTQ+ people working in the gig economy

  • GetEqual app for job postings for LGBTQ+ in Southeast Asia
  • LGBTQ+ people face job discrimination, ILO says 
  • Discrimination makes Southeast Asia LGBTQ+ people migrate

BANGKOK - A mobile app for job listings for freelance LGBTQ+ workers in Southeast Asia can help tackle workplace discrimination and provide more economic opportunities for the growing number of people in the informal sector, activists said.

GetEqual, launched last week, is available on the Line app in Thailand initially, and will be rolled out in Vietnam and Cambodia later in the year, said Ryan Figueiredo, founder and executive director of LGBTQ+ rights group Equal Asia Foundation, which launched the app.

Line is the most widely used chat app in Southeast Asia, and anyone with an account can sign up for GetEqual, which allows users to apply for jobs, and participate in the community chat and other resources. 

Employers across sectors can post full-time, part-time and freelance jobs, said Figueiredo.

"A lot of LGBTQI people in the region do freelance or gig work fearing discrimination in the workplace. They have limited access to jobs," he told Openly.

"The app is community run and driven, and will focus on building the connections and capacity of LGBTQI workers in the informal sector. It will be a safe zone for the community," he said.

GetEqual expects to reach 20,000 users by the end of the year, Figueiredo said.

LGBTQ+ people face discrimination and harassment while looking for jobs, and throughout the employment cycle, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In a report last year, the ILO said that in Southeast Asia, LGBTQ+ people who migrated - largely to Thailand - cited workplace discrimination in their home countries of Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Vietnam as a main reason for leaving.    

 'A door to new opportunities'

Many migrant workers end up in the so-called gig economy, delivering food and groceries, or driving motorcycle taxis and cabs for app-based companies.

"We see enormous potential to provide greater economic opportunities to LGBTQI communities in the region, and improve their access to quality work through the app," said Henry Koh, executive director of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) in Asia. 

"It will also allow employers to access the diverse talents and competencies of the community," Koh said.

For Thanadech Jandee, a transgender food delivery worker in Bangkok, the app is a new avenue for better employment.

Thanadech, 33, worked in the formal sector before he transitioned six years ago.

"After I transitioned, I had less access to job opportunities, and experienced a lot of discrimination at work," he said.

"It is much harder as a trans person to access work opportunities. So I am happy to have this app - it is like a door for us that can open up more and better job opportunities for LGBTQI people, and communicate within the community."     

 (Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran. Editing by Jon Hemming.)

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