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Because AIDS is far from over…

Marking the World AIDS Day 2013 in the Philippines means highlighting that the country remains one of only 12 countries with growing rates of HIV infection, which – in turn – highlights how local efforts may be failing in curbing this social concern. Advocates now call not only for intensified advocacy efforts, but also for the political will for the country to reach its much-hyped target of having zero infections the soonest possible.

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In the Philippines, 491 new HIV Ab sero-positive cases were reported by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL) to the HIV and AIDS Registry for the month of October alone – a 66% increase from the figures for the same period in 2012, when only 295 tested HIV-positive.

In fact, is now estimated that one new Filipino is getting infected with HIV every one hour and 25 minutes, so that from 1984 (when the first HIV case was reported in the country) to 2013, the number of HIV infections continue to balloon in the Philippines. There are now 15,774 HIV Ab sero-positive cases in the country – of these, 14,333 (91%) were reported to be asymptomatic and 1,441 (9%) were AIDS cases. Most of those infected are male (88% or 13,950 of the total number); and the age groups with the most number of cases involved under-40 Filipinos (20-24 years – 22%, 25-29 years – 30%, and 30-34 years – 19%).

According to Dr. Jose Narciso Melchor Sescon, president of the AIDS Society of the Philippines, just under 30 years since the first case was reported in the country and “we still need to intensify advocacy efforts.”

This was the similar sentiment of JVR Prasadao Rao, the United Nation Secretary General’s Special Envoy for HIV and AIDS to Asia and the Pacific. In an earlier exclusive Outrage Magazine interview, he said that “the Philippines has done right in identifying key programs, such as programs in identifying the key affected populations (KAPs), programs on treatment, and all the other important component program. However, the question is on the scaling up of these programs. We have to do more than what we’re doing now.

This is worth highlighting because of the global trends. According to “AIDS by the Numbers”, the 2013 report of Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), globally, HIV infection declined by 33% since 2001; in children, HIV infection declined by 52% since 2001. AIDS-related deaths declined by 29% since 2005; and a 40-fold increase in the access to antiretroviral therapy was noted from 2002-2012.

In fact, according to UNAIDS executive director Michel Sidibé (below), for the first time, “we can see an end to the epidemic… Soon we will be able to announce an AIDS-free generation.”

READ:  Time is running out to reach the 2020 HIV targets - UNAIDS

However, while newer infections of HIV have been declining in most countries, “the staggering fact remains that the Philippines is one of only 12 countries with increasing HIV prevalence (above 25%) as compared 10 years ago,” said Sescon, adding that this means that in the Philippines, “the fight is just starting and we need to gear up, intensify/scale up both national and local responses against HIV. We have seen the mushrooming of efforts from various private sectors already, yet we still need to intensify the commitment of local government units to commit, to take action.”

According to Philip Castro, program officer for HIV and AIDS and communications team leader at the United Nations Development Programme Philippines (UNDP), “we need to take stock of where we are at in the fight against HIV – and events like the World AIDS Day (WAD) remain relevant in highlighting this”. Particularly in the Philippines, “as long as we’re seeing the continued spread of HIV infection and reported deaths of PLHIV in the Philippines, WAD is all the more relevant in the country,” he said.

For Sescon, “I am seeing another Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) scenario here – although now, at the level of epidemic, if we don’t get our acts together.”

FIGURES IN FOCUS

According to the Department of Health – National Epidemiology Center (DOH-NEC), 95% of the 4,072 cases in 2013 were male (3,874). The ages of those newly-infected ranged from four to 79 years old (median 28 years); the 20-29 year old age group had the most (58%) number of cases for 2013. For the male age group, the most number of cases were found among the 20-24 years old (25%), 25-29 years old (34%), and 30-34 years old (20%).

Sescon noted that “the age bracket of Filipinos getting infected with HIV is getting younger and younger, with more (Filipinos coming from the ages of) 15 to 24 getting infected.”

Sexual contact remains the main mode of transmission. Of the 15,774 HIV positive cases reported from 1984 to 2013, 93% (14,648) were infected through sexual contact. In 2013, 94% (3,843) of the cases were infected through sexual contact.

READ:  Polytechnic University of the Philippines stresses inclusion in 4th LGBT Pride celebration

For 2013, other modes of transmission include: 6% (226) through needle sharing among injecting drug users (IDUs), and <1% (3) through mother to child transmission. There were 3,661 male and 182 female infected through sexual transmission; and the age range of those infected through sexual transmission was 15-79 years old (median 27 years).

IDU as an emerging mode of transmission is a concern in the Philippines. This is because, currently, evidence-based harm reduction program through needles syringe exchange programs is not acceptable to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) as this is deemed unlawful and against the Dangerous Act of 2002. As “outlaws”, therefore, IDUs are not openly given services. As such, Sescon lamented the “lack of national policies/laws and ordinances that promote and support public health interest among IDUs and prostituted women and not regarding them as outlaws/outcasts of Philippine society.” And so “we see a fueling HIV epidemic (among IDUs) now in Cebu City. For October 2013, we saw 45 new HIV infections among drug users. What are we waiting for here? Another Haiyan-level catastrophe in the face of HIV epidemic? This is a silent timebomb sitting in front of our very eyes, and our course of actions has yet to be galvanized.”

Already, from January 1984 to October 2013, there were 856 reported deaths among people living with HIV (PLHIV), with 78% (669) of them male. In total, there have already been 90 deaths among youth (15-24 years old) and 15 deaths among children (<15 years old). The annual number of deaths from 1984-2010 ranges from two to 36 cases, with an average of 14 deaths per year. However, starting 2011, an increase in the number of deaths has been recorded. There were 69 in 2011, and 177 in 2012.

Based on submitted reports to the DOH-NEC, there were a total of 148 deaths from January to October 2013. The highest number of deaths occurred in the 25-29 (30%) age group, followed by the 30-34 (28%) and the 35-39 (11%) age groups. For the month of October 2013, there were five deaths.

As of October 2013, only 5,141 PLHIV are on antiretroviral therapy.

READ:  Philippine Bisexual Society: Creating a united front

STRENGTHENING EXISTING EFFORTS

Castro said that “apparently, the magnitude of the current responses is not sufficient in confronting the increasing HIV infections in the country.” As such, “the country has to innovate and scale up its responses. This is the only way to really deal with this.”

Sescon noted that “experts said that to curb and halt the HIV epidemic, we need to see coverage and reach of most at risk population (MARPs) at 80% accessing for HIV package of services. This includes 60% of consistent condom use. But what Philippine data shows us is that we have below 50% condom use among MARPs, and only 30% reached and covered for (other) HIV services. So we still have a long way to go before we get to (having) zero new infections,” he said.

As such, while “we have to come up with good estimations, good strategic plans and good operational plans to fights HIV,” said Sescon, “but what we really need is the political will and leadership from our chief executives to take accountability and move this forward.”

There are already good practices in HIV work, yet for Sescon, “what remains to be done is scaling up. Our current efforts for a national HIV response are not enough to curb the epidemic. Key stakeholders – such as politicians, including local officials – have to recognize this impending danger,” Sescon said.

“The end of AIDS is within our power,” said UNAIDS executive director Sidibé.

“We need to galvanize efforts, both at the local and at the national level. We have to make our actions now or it may be too late. I am afraid to see our country, the Philippines, become the ‘Africa of Asia’ with regards to AIDS epidemic in the near future,” Sescon said.

Castro agreed. “The realization of the goal of ‘getting to zero’ necessitates collective action and shared responsibility. All of us – whether you’re from the government, development agencies or affected community, has a role to play. We need to stand up to our responsibilities to realize our shared goal,” he said. “We can’t afford to be ‘business as usual’.”

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

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Chance of HIV-positive person with undetectable viral load transmitting the virus to a sex partner is scientifically zero

The PARTNER 2 study found no transmissions between gay couples where the HIV-positive partner had a viral load under 200 copies/ml – even though there were nearly 77,000 acts of condomless sex between them.

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Confirmed and needs to be stressed: The chance of any HIV-positive person with an undetectable viral load transmitting the virus to a sexual partner is scientifically equivalent to zero.

This is according to researchers who released at #AIDS2018 the final results from the PARTNER study. Results originally announced in 2014 from the first phase, PARTNER 1, already indicated that “Undetectable equals Untransmittable” (U=U). But while the first study was lauded in tackling vaginal sex, the statistical certainty of the result did not convince everyone, particularly in the case of gay men, or those who engage in anal sex.

But now, PARTNER 2, the second phase, only recruited gay couples. The PARTNER study recruited HIV serodifferent couples (one partner positive, one negative) at 75 clinical sites in 14 European countries. They tested the HIV-negative partners every six to 12 months for HIV, and tested viral load in the HIV-positive partners. Both partners also completed behavioral surveys. In cases of HIV infection in the negative partners, their HIV was genetically analyzed to see if it came from their regular partner.

And the results indicate “a precise rate of within-couple transmission of zero” for gay men as well as for heterosexuals.

The study found no transmissions between gay couples where the HIV-positive partner had a viral load under 200 copies/ml – even though there were nearly 77,000 acts of condomless sex between them.

PARTNER is not the only study about viral load and infectiousness. Last year, the Opposites Attract study also found no transmissions in nearly 17,000 acts of condomless anal sex between serodifferent gay male partners. This means that no transmission has been seen in about 126,000 occasions of sex, if this study is combined with PARTNER 1 and 2.

READ:  Time is running out to reach the 2020 HIV targets - UNAIDS

While this is good news overall in the fight against HIV, related issues continue to plague HIV-related efforts, particularly in countries like the Philippines.

Why aren’t we talking about ‘undetectable = untransmittable’ in the Philippines?

For instance, aside from the overall silence on U=U (undetectable = untransmittable), use of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) continue to be low. As of May 2016, when the country already had 34,158 total reported cases of HIV infection, Filipinos living with HIV who are on anti-retroviral therapy (i.e. those who are taking meds) only numbered 14,356.

The antiretroviral medicines in use in the Philippines also continue to be limited, with some already phased out in developed countries.

All the same, this is considered a significant stride, with science unequivocally backing the scientific view helmed in 2008 by Dr. Pietro Vernazza who spearheaded the scientific view that viral suppression means HIV cannot be passed via a statement in the Bulletin of Swiss Medicine.

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‘God loves LGBTQIA people; so do we.’

A Christian church wants members of the LGBTQIA community to know that “they are loved by God.” Val Paminiano, pastor of the Freedom in Christ Ministries, says that “we would like to apologize on behalf of the mainstream churches that condemn the LGBTQIA community. Sorry for hurting you; (and) even for using the Bible to hurt you.”

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God’s love is for all.

“(We want the members of the LGBTQIA community to know that) they are loved by God,” said Val Paminiano, pastor of the Freedom in Christ Ministries, which has been making its presence known particularly in LGBTQIA Pride events to highlight its Christian anti-anti-LGBTQIA position.

Approximately 80% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic, and the church’s teachings continue to dominate public life in the Philippines. As it stands, church’s teachings re LGBTQIA people still often revolve around the “hate the sin, love the sinner” statement, so that LGBTQIA people are tolerated so long as they do not express their being LGBTQIA.

This “hate the sin, love the sinner” stance seems to be reflected in dominant perspectives re LGBTQIA people in the Philippines.

In 2013, for instance, in a survey titled “The Global Divide on Homosexuality” conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center, 73% of adult Filipinos agreed with the statement that “homosexuality should be accepted by society”. The percentage of Filipinos who said society should not accept gays fell from 33% in 2002 to 26% that year.

But more recently, in June 2018, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that a big percentage of Filipinos still oppose civil unions. When 1,200 respondents across the country were asked whether or not they agree with the statement “there should be a law that will allow the civil union of two men or two women”, at least 61% of the respondents said they would oppose a bill that would legalize this in the country. Among them, 44% said they strongly disagree, while 17% said they somewhat disagree. Meanwhile, 22% said they would support it, while 16% said they were still “undecided”.

READ:  LGBTs question Phl definition of marriage

For Paminiano, “we would like to apologize on behalf of the mainstream churches that condemn the LGBTQIA community. Sorry for hurting you; (and) even for using the Bible to hurt you.”

Churches continue to be lambasted for not changing with time – perhaps most obvious in the treatment of LGBT people of those with faith. But the number of denominations openly discussing – and even coming up with statements of support of – LGBTQIA issues is increasing.

Finding room for #queerinfaith

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All hail the beauty queen

A glimpse into the life of a trans woman beauty pageant enthusiast, Ms Mandy Madrigal of Transpinay of Antipolo Organization.

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This is part of #KaraniwangLGBT, which Outrage Magazine officially launched on July 26, 2015 to offer vignettes of LGBT people/living, particularly in the Philippines, to give so-called “everyday people” – in this case, the common LGBT people – that chance to share their stories.
As Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan says: “All our stories are valid – not just the stories of the ‘big shots’. And it’s high time we start telling all our stories.”

“I feel accepted.”

That, said Mandy Madrigal, is the main appeal of joining beauty pageants.

“I feel so loved when I join pageants. Especially when people clap for us, cheer for us. And when you win… it (just) feels different.”

FINDING ACCEPTANCE

Assigned male at birth, Mandy was in primary school when her father asked her if “I was a boy or a girl”. That question scared her, she admitted, because – as the only boy among six kids – she thought she did not really have “any choice”. “So I answered my father, ‘I am a boy’.”

But Mandy’s father asked her the same question again; and this time, “I said, yes, I am gay.”

No, Mandy is NOT gay; she is a transpinay, and a straight one at that. But the misconceptions about the binary remains – i.e. in this case, she is associated with being gay mainly because she did not identify with the sex assigned her at birth.

In a way, Mandy said she’s lucky because “I believe he (my father) accepted (me) with his whole heart.”

The rest of her family did, too.

Though – speaking realistically – Mandy said this may be abetted by her “contributions” to the family. “Hindi naman aka basta naging bakla lang (I’m not a ’typical’ gay person),” she said, “na naglalandi lang o sumasali lang ng pageant (who just flirts, or just joins beauty pageants). Instead, Mandy provides financial support to her family by – among others – selling RTW clothes and beauty products. In fact, some of her winnings also go to the family’s coffers. By helping provide them with what they need, “it’s easy for them to accept me as a transgender woman.”

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Growing up, Mandy realized that while “makakapagsinungaling ka sa ibang tao, pero sarili mo, hindi mo maloloko. Kaya mas magandang tanggapin mo ang sarili mo para matanggap ka ng ibang tao (you may be able to lie to others about who you really are, but you can’t lie to yourself. So it’s better to accept your true self so that others will be able to accept you too).”

Mandy was “introduced” to beauty pageants when she was 13 or 14. At that time, a friend asked her to join a pageant; and “I won first runner up.” She never looked backed since, even – at one time – earning as much as P20,000 after winning a title. Like many regular beauconeras (beauty pageant participants), she also heads to distant provinces to compete, largely because – according to her – prizes in provincial competitions tend to be higher. The prize money earned helps one buy more paraphernalia for the next pageants, and – in Mandy’s case – also helps support her family.

Generally speaking, Mandy Madrigal said that “ang tunay na queen ay may malaking puso (a real queen has a big heart).”

FORMING A FAMILY

Beauty pageants are competitions, yes; but for Mandy, pageants also allow the candidates to form bonds as they get close to each other. Pageants, she said, can be a way “na maging close kami, magkaroon ng magagandang bonding… at magkakilala kami (for us to be close, to bond and get to know the others better).”

READ:  Baguio celebrates Pride 2015 to highlight ongoing struggle of minority sectors

Pageants can be costly, Mandy admitted – for instance, “you have to invest,” she said, adding that a candidate needs to be able to provide for herself (instead of just always renting) costumes, swimsuits, casual wear, gowns, and so on.

In a way, therefore, having people who believe in you helps. In Mandy’s case, for instance, a lot of people helped (by providing necessities she needs) because “naniniwala sila na I am a queen inside and out,” she smiled.

But this support can also rack the nerves, particularly when people expect one to win (particularly because of the support given).

One will not always win, of course; and this doesn’t always give one good feelings. In 2017, for instance, Mandy joined Queen of Antipolo, and – after failing to win a crown – she said many people told her she should have won the title, or at least placed among the runners-up. “naguluhan ang utak ko (That confused me),” she said. “‘Bakit ako ang gusto ninyong manalo?’ But that’s when I realized na marami ako na-i-inspire na tao dahil marami nagtitiwala sa akin (I ask, ‘Why do you want me to win?’ But that’s when I realized that I inspire a lot of people, which is why they count on me).”

This gives her confidence; enough to deal with the nervousness that will also allow her to just enjoy any pageant she joins.

A TIME TO SHINE

Mandy believes pageants can help LGBTQI people by providing them a platform to showcase to non-LGBTQI people why “hindi tayo dapat husgahan (we should not be judged).”

READ:  Polytechnic University of the Philippines stresses inclusion in 4th LGBT Pride celebration

Generally speaking, Mandy said that “ang tunay na queen ay may malaking puso (a real queen has a big heart).”

And she knows that not every pageant is good for every contestant. There will be pageants where you will be crowned the queen, she said, just as there will be pageants where you will lose. But over and above the winning and losing, note “what’s most important: that there’s a lot of people who supported you in a (certain) pageant.”

At the end of the day, “sa lahat ng patimpalak, pagkatandaan natin na merong nananalo at may natatalo. Depende na lang yan sa araw mo. Kung ikaw ay nakatadhanang manalo ay mananalo ka; kung nakatadhanang matalo ay matatalo ka talaga. Yun lang yun. Isipin mo na lang na meron pang araw na darating na mas maganda para sa iyo (in all competitions, remember that there will always be a winner and a loser. It all depends on your luck for the day. If you are fated to win, you will win; if you are fated to lose, you will lose. That’s that. But still remember – even when you lose – that there will always come a day that will be great for you).”

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Iloilo City passes anti-discrimination ordinance on final reading

The city of Iloilo has joined the ranks of local government units (LGUs) with LGBTQI anti-discrimination ordinances (ADOs), with the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) unanimously approving its ADO mandating non-discrimination of members of minority sectors including the LGBTQIA community.

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IMAGE DETAIL FROM jahcordova FROM PIXABAY.COM

Pride comes to the “City of Love”.

The city of Iloilo has joined the ranks of local government units (LGUs) with LGBTQI anti-discrimination ordinances (ADOs), with the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) unanimously approving its ADO mandating non-discrimination of members of minority sectors including the LGBTQI community.

The ADO was sponsored by Councilor Liezl Joy Zulueta-Salazar, chair of the SP Committee on Women and Family Relations. Councilor Love Baronda helped with the content/provisions of the ordinance.

“Everyone deserves equal protection under the law. This local legislation reinforces the Constitutional rights and the inalienable human rights of everyone to be treated equally,” Zulueta-Salazar said to Outrage Magazine. “It has always been a question of equality versus equity. Your government is a duty-bearer to protect everyone under the law. Moreso those who have time and again, been victims of injustice borne out from bigotry and indifference. That has to change now. Discrimination has no place in the ‘City of Love’.”

The ADO defines acts of discrimination to include: refusal of employment, refusal of admission in schools, refusal of entry in places open to general public, deprivation of abode or quarters, deprivation of the provision of goods and services, subjecting one to ridicule or insult, and doing acts that demeans the dignity and self-respect or a person because of sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, ethnic origin, and religious beliefs.

Penalties range from P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense and imprisonment of not more than 10 days at the discretion of the court, and P3,000 and 15 days imprisonment on the third offense.

READ:  The Birdcage: Into the darkness

The ADO also mandates the creation of the anti-discrimination mediation and conciliation board headed by the mayor. This board will initiate the filing of cases against violators.

“Discrimination… violates basic human rights thus making it our duty as public servants to protect our citizens from unwarranted and unfair treatment coming from their fellow citizens, or worse from their own government. We respect and give emphasis to the right of every person because what matters is for us to be humane and to do everything in love,” Baronda said to Outrage Magazine.

Zulueta-Salazar added that “having worked with the marginalized sectors of our society through non-government organizations like the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines Iloilo Chapter and the different barangay local governments in Iloilo City, we have seen how the struggles of the LGBTQI, of the urban poor, of the religious minorities including the Indigenous Peoples displaced in the city. This ordinance is for them, not for special or preferential treatment from their government, but to give them what they truly deserve: a more just and equitable treatment by providing an enabling environment for them to be equally productive members of the society.”

For Zulueta-Salazar, the salient points in the Iloilo ADP may be the same as the other ADOs across the country, “but the one we have here in Iloilo City is a product of hard fought struggle for equality not just for one sector of the society, but generally as a statement that the ‘City of Love’ does not discriminate based on gender, age, race or religion. That in the ‘City of Love’, truly it can be said now that love wins.”

READ:  LGBTs question Phl definition of marriage

For Iloilo City-based Rev. Alfred Candid Jaropillo, who heads the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), the ADO “is a step for the ‘City of Love’ in creating a community where the rights of all its constituents are respected and protected. As a clergy of the UCCP, I commend our government officials for passing the said ordinance (to show that) Iloilo is indeed a safe city for our sisters and brothers coming from the LGBTQI community.”

The Iloilo City Legal Office has 60 days from approval to promulgate the implementing rules and regulations (IRR), while the Public Information Office shall conduct an information drive 30 days from approval. The ordinance takes effect 10 days after its publication in a local newspaper.

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Mandaluyong City passes LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance

With the continuing absence of a national law that will protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos, the city of Mandaluyng passed Ordinance 698, S-2018, which seeks to “uphold the rights of all Filipinos especially those discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE).”

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IMAGE DETAIL FROM JUDGE FLORENTINO FLORO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

With the continuing absence of a national law that will protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos (largely – at least for this year – because of a weak political support from the Philippine Senate via the non-leadership on this issue by Senate Pres. Vicente Sotto III and Majority Floor Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri), localized anti-discrimination efforts are again in focus. This time around, the city of Mandaluyng passed Ordinance 698, S-2018, which seeks to “uphold the rights of all Filipinos especially those discriminated against based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE).”

With this, it is now “the policy of the Mandaluyong City government to afford equal protection to LGBTQI people as guaranteed by our Constitution and to craft legal legislative measures in support of this aim.”

According to Dindi Tan, secretary general of LGBT Pilipinas, which helped push for the passage of this anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO), said that “the tactic now is to shift from a national lobby to local lobby, which is more pragmatic and feasible given the prevailing political environment in Congress.”

The Mandaluyong City ADO is specific to he LGBTQI community. Other ADOs in other localities lump the LGBTQI community with other minority sectors, including persons with disability (PWDs), seniors, cultural minorities, et cetera. But this city ordinance is specific to LGBTQI people, focusing on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

“We continue to relentlessly lobby for the passage of local ADOs and similar policies such as this one from the Tiger City of Mandaluyong pending the enactment of a national law made for (this) purpose,” Tan said. “We can’t afford to wait forever for the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB) to pass in the Senate and the bicam while our LGBTQI sisters and brothers on the ground continue to be the targets of gender-based violence and discrimination.”

READ:  The ‘bisexual’ conundrum

Mandaluyong City’s ADO specifically prohibits such discriminatory acts as: denying or limiting employment-related access; denying access to public programs or services; refusing admission, expelling or dismissing a person from educational institutions due to their SOGIE; subjecting a person to verbal or written abuse; unjust detention/involuntary confinement; denying access to facilities; and illegalizing formation of groups that incite SOGIE-related discrimination.

For the city to attain its goals, activities lined-up include: incorporating LGBTQI activities in Women’t Month celebrations; hosting of seminars in private and public spaces; and month-long Pride celebration in November, culminating on World AIDS Day on December 1.

The ADO also “strongly” encourages the Mandaluyong City Police District “to handle the specific concerns relating to SOGIE through existing Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) desk in all police stations in Mandaluying City.”

A Mandaluyong City Pride Council will also be established to oversee the implementation of the ordinance.

Any person held liable under the ADO may be penalized with imprisonment for 60 days to one year and/or penalized with P1,000 to P5,000, depending on the discretion of the court.

Pushed by Sangguniang Panglungsod councilor China S. Celeste, Mandaluyong City Mayor Carmencita A. Abalos signed the ADO on May 17.

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Polytechnic University of the Philippines stresses inclusion in 4th LGBT Pride celebration

The LGBTQIA community of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa in the City of Manila stressed the importance of “real diversity” as it celebrated its 4th Pride.

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“We” in diversity.

The LGBTQIA community of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa in the City of Manila stressed the importance of “real diversity” as it celebrated its 4th Pride.

Themed “Putting we in diversity”, the gathering that was helmed by Kasarianlan, the only LGBTQIA organization in PUP, this year’s gathering “eyed to emphasize that we can’t truly claim pride if this is not inclusive of all of us,” said Jan Melchor Rosellon, the student organization’s current inang reyna/head. “Our theme for this year’s PUP Pride was ‘Putting we in diversity’ because albeit our differences, we want to find our commonalities in being part of the LGBTQIA community. We acknowledge our individuality though look at this through (the lens of) diversity and inclusion.”

The hosting of Pride in PUP has actually been inconsistent, with the first one held in the 1990s, and only followed by the second one in 2015. It was only in the last two years when Pride was held consistently.

Rosellon said that despite being a progressive and political university, “PUP is not yet accepting of the LGBTQIA community, but rather (just) tolerant of it.” He alleged that “there are still cases of discrimination, public humiliation and harassment (done against) members of the LGBTQIA community by the students, and even by professors and staff.”

So for Rosellon, PUP Pride “provides an avenue for the LGBTQIA community to freely express and be themselves. We will still continue the pursuit for equality; and hopefully through this event, unjust laws and bigotry would soon be thrown in the void.”

READ:  Ready for the Close Up

Kasarianlan eyes to regularize hosting PUP’s Pride, since – as Rosellon said – “events such as this promotes freedom and acceptance which we think are imperative. Pride acknowledges our visibility… that we are a legitimate community and we also deserve what others are given: their human rights.”

For more information on Kasarianlan, visit https://www.facebook.com/PUPKasarianlan/.

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