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Almost half of LGBT workers remain closeted, unmoved by diversity efforts

Almost half of LGBT workers claimed that they are not comfortable being out at work, according to a study released by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). This calls into question how well many big companies’ diversity initiatives are working (or – in this case – not working).

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IMAGE USED FOR ILLUSTRATION PURPOSE ONLY; FROM PIXABAY.COM

No, it still isn’t getting better for all.

A study done by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) found that almost half of LGBT employees remained closeted in their workplaces. This is roughly the same number as a decade ago, and it calls into question how well many big companies’ diversity initiatives are working (or – in this case – not working).

In “A Workplace Divided: Understanding the Climate for LGBTQ Workers Nationwide”, HRC Foundation sought to uncover the prevalence of LGBTQ workers feeling pressure to hide their sexual orientation and/or gender identity on the job and the cost of that hiding both to individuals and employers. HRC Foundation also researched the benefits to employers and workers when workplace climates are more welcoming of LGBTQ people.

In total, 1,615 workers both gay and straight were included, with many LGBT employees saying they don’t come out because they are afraid of being stereotyped, damaging relationships with co-workers or making people feel uncomfortable.

Among the straight respondents, about half said that there aren’t any openly gay employees where they work.

Other findings included:

  • 46% of LGBTQ workers say they are closeted at work, compared to 50% in HRCF’s 2008 “Degrees of Equality” report;
  • 1-in-5 LGBTQ workers report having been told or had coworkers imply that they should dress in a more feminine or masculine manner;
  • 53% of LGBTQ workers report hearing jokes about lesbian or gay people at least once in a while;
  • 31% of LGBTQ workers say they have felt unhappy or depressed at work;
  • and the top reason LGBTQ workers don’t report negative comments they hear about LGBTQ people to a supervisor or human resources is because “they don’t think anything would be done about it — and they don’t want to hurt their relationships with coworkers”.
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The survey also showed that 45% of LGBTQ workers agreed that the enforcement of any nondiscrimination policy depends on their supervisor’s personal inclinations toward LGBTQ people, with 13% of LGBTQ workers expressing that they feel they would be terminated due to their workplace’s lack of tolerance toward LGBTQ people.

“While LGBTQ-inclusive corporate policies are becoming the norm, LGBTQ workers too often face a climate of bias in their workplace,” Deena Fidas, director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program, said in a statement.

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NEWSMAKERS

Baguio’s LGBTQIA community eyes to highlight ‘real Pride’ for Nov. 24 fest

Themed “This is Pride”, the 12th Baguio LGBT Pride Parade 2018 slated on November 24 “acknowledges that the community is still facing a lot of issues, so that we are coming out on the streets to continue the struggle for LGBT rights not yet won,” said Archie Montevirgen, chairperson of Amianan Pride Council.

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PHOTO BY AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL/ELLA RODRIGUEZ & FREEPIK, COURTESY OF THE AMIANAN PRIDE COUNCIL

Baguio and the Cordilleras eye to highlight the real meaning of #LGBT #Pride with the 12th Baguio LGBT Pride Parade 2018 slated on November 24.

Themed “This is Pride”, the gathering “acknowledges that the community is still facing a lot of issues, so that we are coming out on the streets to continue the struggle for LGBT rights not yet won,” said Archie Montevirgen, chairperson of the Amianan Pride Council, which organizes the annual event.

Nonetheless, the event also wants to “celebrate victories our advocacy has achieved.”

“This year, we intend to bring the community closer by making everybody in the community feel that we are all in this together. That a victory won is everybody’s achievement; that Pride is for everybody. We want everyone to feel that they all have something to be proud of, that is why we are celebrating our uniqueness, and our diversity,” Montevirgen said.

This year’s gathering is also very cognizant of the commercialization of Pride.

8 Ways to know we’ve sold ‘Pride’

“It was one of the factors that pushed everyone to arrive at the theme ‘This is Pride’. We talked among ourselves and arrived at the understanding that no particular LGBT sector can put a patent on Pride,” Montevirgen said. “We come from different sectors and hold different agendas and interests towards Pride. For some it is political, some push for agendas, some come to celebrate, some come to express themselves without judgment, and some come to party. We understand that whatever reason one comes to Pride is a contribution to the cause, and something to be proud of.”

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But to avoid being swallowed by the erroneous system (i.e. Pride being bought), “that is the very reason why we have decided from the start not to make the Amianan Pride Council a formal structured organization, but a loose alliance of organizations and institution that feel they have a stake at Pride. So commercialization at this point does not feel like a threat at all to (us).”

Every year, leadership of the Amianan Pride Councilis passed on, thereby allowing the next leaders to take it to a direction they want to take, given the concurrence of the council.

Incidentally, this was the model of Task Force Pride (TFP) in Metro Manila in the past; which was eventually superseded to give way to the now more commercial model.

While the actual Pride parade in Baguio City will take place on November 24, the different member organizations of Amianan Pride Council also plan to hold different activities of their own to hype up the annual gathering.

As it is, talks are ongoing with the office of Baguio City Vice Mayor to declare the last week of November as LGBT week in Baguio City.

For more information, contact Metropolitan Community Church – Metro Baguio at 09298629036.

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NEWSMAKERS

Iloilo declared as ‘LGBT-friendly’ city; mayor eyes to establish office to handle LGBTQI-related efforts

Iloilo Mayor Jose S. Espinosa III declared the city as “LGBT-friendly”, with plan to establish an office that will develop programs and activities for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

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Iloilo Mayor Jose S. Espinosa III declared the city as “LGBT-friendly”, with plan to establish an office that will develop programs and activities for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Espinosa said he is also looking into hiring an executive assistant for LGBT affairs.

“Here in Iloilo, we don’t frown upon as to what these people choose. We want to give them self-respect,” Espinosa was quoted as saying by BusinessWorld.

In June, the Iloilo City Council approved an anti-discrimination ordinance that penalizes discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, ethnic origin, and religious beliefs.

Iloilo City passes anti-discrimination ordinance on final reading

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.

Iloilo City is slated to hold its 3rd Iloilo Pride parade on Oct. 13.

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NEWSMAKERS

Unilever starts offering 20-day paternity leave, same-sex partner benefits in Phl

Unilever will now offer a 20-day paid leave for fathers, healthcare benefits for same-sex partners and paid absences for adoptive parents.

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Photo by Peter Hershey from Unsplash.com

As an attempt to ramp up its responses to a diverse workforce, Unilever will now offer a 20-day paid leave for fathers, healthcare benefits for same-sex partners and paid absences for adoptive parents.

According to Unilever Philippines chairman and CEO Benjie Yap, “diversity is an essential requirement in the today’s workforce, as it lends to new ideas, energies, and solutions.”

And so, “in acknowledging the different forms of unions and families, the company continues to explore ways and solutions to lead by example in the industry.”

With this development, employees can now avail of 20 days paid paternity leave, longer than the seven days mandated by law.

Same-sex partners of employees can be enrolled as healthcare beneficiaries. They are also eligible for maternity and paternity leaves.

Meanwhile, adoptive parents can avail of paid leaves when adopting a child six months old or younger. But the company did not specify the maximum allowed paid absences.

The company is actually already recognized as pro-LGBTQI particularly in the US. It received a perfect score of 100% on the 2017 Corporate Equality Index (CEI), a national benchmarking survey and report on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality, administered by the well-moneyed NGO Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

But the company has also been accused of putting profit before the human rights of LGBTQIA people – e.g. Unilever North Africa Middle East has production facilities in countries such as Tunisia and Algeria, where – according to a 2015 report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association – homosexual activity continues to be illegal.

READ:  OHCHR highlights impact of LGBT-related violence

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Address causes that put young people at risk of HIV – Pia Wurtzbach

Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach urged decision makers to address the causes that put young people at risk of HIV.

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UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for Asia and the Pacific Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach urged decision makers to address the causes that put young people at risk of HIV, speaking at the International Youth Day Conference organized by the United Nations Youth Association of the Philippines in collaboration with the United Nations Association of the Philippines.

“We live in a world where adolescents and young people, especially from key populations, are still left behind. We cannot fail to address their needs. I challenge the indifference and I call for action now,” said Wurtzbach.

Every day, approximately 230 young people are newly infected with HIV in Asia and the Pacific. In 2017, almost half a million young people between the ages of 15 to 24 years were living with HIV in the region.  In the Philippines, young people account for 69% of new HIV infections and data indicates that there is a growing HIV epidemic among young men having sex with men. Young key populations (including gay men and other men who have sex with men, bisexual people, transgender people, sex workers and people who use drugs) are at a high risk of HIV acquisition due to rights violations, discrimination, exclusion, criminalization and violence.

This year’s theme for International Youth Day was Safe Spaces for Youth, highlighting the need of young people for safe spaces to come together, hang out and participate in decision making processes. This includes in healthcare settings, which should be places of safety, free from stigma, discrimination and violence. This is not always the case in Asia and the Pacific, where policies and attitudes remain barriers to youth-friendly HIV and sexual and reproductive health services. In the region, available data indicates that more than half of the countries requires parental consent for HIV testing for adolescents younger than 16 years old.

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‘‘We need a critical change to respond to the dynamic shift of the HIV epidemic among young key populations, not only in the Philippines, but in Asia and the Pacific,” stressed Eamonn Murphy, UNAIDS Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific. “We need the innovation and creativity of young people in designing HIV interventions that work for them and, at the same time, support their leadership in challenging structural barriers in accessing health services, including parental consent requirements for adolescents and the lack of comprehensive sexuality education,” he added.

Wurtzbach encouraged people to advocate for young people’s participation in the AIDS response as leaders and agents of change and build strategic partnerships to end the AIDS epidemic.

“We have miles to go to end AIDS in the Philippines and we need to equip young people with the right information and enable them to access services that are safe and responsive to their needs,” Wurtzbach concluded.

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Makati bar bans ‘bakla’ from entering, again highlights absence of LGBT non-discrimination policies

Impersonator KaladKaren Davila called out a Makati bar for refusing entry to “bakla” (gay people) on Saturday, August 25. The venue said that “this incident was a one-off” and that they are still finding out where the miscommunication went wrong.

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Image used for illustration purpose only; photo by Thomas Picauly from Unsplash.com

Impersonator KaladKaren Davila, real name Jervi Li, called out a Makati bar for refusing entry to “bakla” (gay people) on Saturday, August 25. In a video uploaded in Facebook, Li was shown being confronted by a bouncer of H&J Sports Bar and Restaurant, where she and a group of friends were being barred from entering.

To clarify, Li stated that “my friends and I were denied entry to H&J Sports Bar and Restaurant in Poblacion, Makati dahil bawal raw po pumasok ang mga “BAKLA”. HINDI dahil sa DRESS CODE or whatever, pero dahil BAKLA po kami.

(“My friends and I were denied entry to H&J Sports Bar and Restaurant in Poblacion, Makati because gay people are not allowed inside. Not because of a dress code or whatever, but because we’re gay.”)

“Inutos lang sa amin. Wag kayong ma-offend (We were just ordered to do it. Don’t be offended),” the bouncer said to Li and her friends.

Na-o-offend kami (We’re offended) because that’s discriminating to people like us,” said Li in the encounter.

The video does not show what transpired after the barring of the customers.

But speaking about the incident in “Umagang Kay Ganda”, Li said that when she first asked if they could speak to the management, the bouncers claimed they were not around. It was only after she was accompanied by barangay officials that they allowed her to speak with supervisor Butch Montejo, who explained that “ladyboys” were harassing customers and stealing from them the night before.

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Outrage Magazine reached out to Li, but no response has been received as of press time.

Reaching out to the venue via its Facebook page, the operations manager named Randy told Outrage Magazine to refer to the interview made by ABS-CBN’s “Umagang Kay Ganda” for their response on this issue.

There, the bar’s manager Jerry Echter explained that a certain group of transgender people who were allegedly notorious for stealing were the only ones instructed to be banned from the establishment; he clarified that all kinds of people were allowed inside.

In a succeeding Facebook post, Echter also stated: “We treat everyone equal always have always will! Likewise, if you misbehave or upset other customers we take action regardless of gender, race or social status… it’s what we are known for.”

Echter’s statement is however somewhat contradicting the pro-equality stance since Li and her party have yet to enter the premises because of the banning, and so they have yet to “misbehave or upset other customers”.

Li said that there is no need to generalize that all LGBT people will harass and steal from other customers because “anybody is capable of doing a crime: girl, boy, gay or tomboy”.

When pressed for a comment, Randy told Outrage Magazine that “this incident was a one-off. Anyone that comes to our bar knows we don’t discriminate. We get customers from around the world and all genders. We’ve been in the business for more than 20 years and one of the reasons is because we treat everyone equally.”

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Outrage Magazine also asked if there are there efforts being taken to inform staff re sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE) to avoid something like this from occurring again in the future; and if there will be sanctions given to the security personnel (or at least gender training) in their role here.

Randy said that “Yes, there will be accordingly after we find out where the miscommunication went wrong.”

Already, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman said she will file a resolution in Congress to investigate, in aid of legislation, this very unfortunate incident. “Situations like these are simply unacceptable,” Roman said.
Roman is the first transgender in Congress and is a proponent of the Anti-Discrimination Bill.

Incidentally, Makati City does not have an anti-discrimination ordinance, arguably and apparently emboldening establishments to discriminate against LGBTQIA people.

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#KaraniwangLGBT

Photos from the fringes of the rainbow

How Outrage Magazine’s #KaraniwangLGBT eyes to help broaden LGBTQIA representation in the Philippines by documenting those at the fringes of the rainbow. As editor Michael David Tan said: “To really engage, we have to allow others to shine. Hopefully, in a small way, #KaraniwangLGBT does that.”

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On June 13, 2015, fashion designer Veejay Floresca – who happens to be a transgender woman – alleged that she was almost refused entry by high-end bar Valkyrie in Taguig City.

“Because: 1. that venue was frequented by the so-called ‘high and mighty’ and the social climbing crowd; 2. one of the owners of the venue is a local celebrity in the person of Vice Ganda; and 3. Floresca, herself, was a mini-celebrity, the ‘Valkyrie issue’ made a big splash in the news,” recalled Michael David C. Tan, editor of Outrage Magazine.

TV personality Boy Abunda – an openly gay man himself – interviewed Floresca in ABS-CBN; and national dailies like Inquirer and The Philippine Star tackled Floresca’s “almost non-entry” into an exclusive bar.

But also around that time – on June 22, 2015 – Michael David interviewed another transgender woman: Claire Balabbo. Claire was one of the 96 contractual employees of Tanduay Distillers Inc. in Cabuyao, Laguna who decided to launch a sudden strike after they were told on May 16, 2015 to stop reporting to work by May 18.

“While a handful of alternative media picked the picketers’ story (for instance, Altermidya), this story remained largely ignored,” Michael David said.

And for Tan, this highlighted a “sad reality”, an “imbalance that should embarrass us all” because of the “seemingly too apparent preference to provide coverage to the issues of the rich and famous; but not of those at the fringes of society.”

Murielle

Ryan B.

Sarah

Vien

Aside from her issues as a contractual worker, Claire also encountered work-related discrimination as a trans woman – e.g. when she just started working for Tanduay Distillers Inc., the HR office allegedly forced her to cut her hair, else risk getting fired from work; and she was physically harassed at work, though the HR office allegedly just dismissed her claim since “all workers were ‘male’ anyway” and that the co-workers may have just been joking around (as boys do).

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Particularly looking at the Valkyrie versus Tanduay issues superficially, one is about accessing a space to party; while the other is about being able to work decently to make a living.

This helped drive the development of #KaraniwangLGBT, with Michael David starting to photo-document “LGBTQIA Filipinos at the fringes of the rainbow,” he said.

Michael David said that “in no way is this effort belittling the issues raised in occurrences like the Valkyrie debacle – e.g. access to space. Instead, this is an attempt to ‘give face’ to those who do not usually have the same access to, say, media and representation.”

Aian

Aris

Bunny

Claire

#KaraniwangLGBT became a section in Outrage Magazine, with the effort to tell the stories of “common LGBTQIA people” bringing Michael David (and the staff of Outrage Magazine) all over the Philippines. And what – initially – started as a photo campaign evolved, with this section now also telling the stories of the subjects via write-ups and mini-documentaries.

To date, Michael David has already photographed/documented – among others – members of the LGBTQIA community who are also Moros, sex workers, church workers, HIV advocates, differently-abled/PWDs, PLHIVs, members of Lumad communities, contractual workers, homeless, victims of domestic abuse, et cetera.

Jelly Ace

Mara

Marimar

MMK

“To really engage, we have to allow others to shine,” Michael David said. “Hopefully, in a small way, #KaraniwangLGBT does that.”

n.b.
Following Floresca’s media tour, Valkyrie eventually amended its policy to allow trans women to party in its premises. But the “Valkyrie effect” was minimal – e.g. only Valkyrie made changes; and was Taguig City, where Valkyrie is located, still does not have an anti-discrimination ordinance, so venues there can still opt to implement discriminatory policies similar to what got Valkyrie in hot water.

Balabbo was not able to return to work. She now helps other contractual workers in other factories/plants in Laguna to organize to also fight for their rights.

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