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Is Chiz your Vice President for #Eleksyon2016?

Outrage Magazine’s exclusive interview with Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero – who is running as Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines in #Eleksyon2016 – who discusses other issues concerning the LGBT community aside from same-sex marriage, including the long-delayed passage of an anti-discrimination law, development of a gender recognition law, worsening HIV situation in the country and how the LGBT community can push for its issues.

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Citing a basic principle in social justice that those who have less in life should have more in law, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero reiterated his support for the LGBT community, a sector he said that continues to be neglected and is also repeatedly stigmatized.

In an exclusive Outrage Magazine interview, and because the LGBT community is not a one-issue sector, Escudero – who is running for Vice President in the 2016 national elections – discussed other issues concerning the LGBT community aside from same-sex marriage (He is, by the way, for civil partnerships), including the languishing anti-discrimination bill in both Houses of Congress, development of a gender recognition law in the Philippines, worsening HIV situation in the Philippines, inclusion of LGBT people in existing and/or policies being developed, and how the LGBT community can push for its issues.

ANTI-DISCRIMINATION LAW, NOW NA!

In 2014, Escudero co-authored Senate Bill 2358 (Anti-Discrimination Bill, along with Presidentiable Sen. Grace Poe), which eyed to make any form of discrimination a “crime against humanity and human dignity”.

For Escudero, “simpleng batas yun na hindi naman dapat kontrahin ninuman (It’s a simple law that should not be hindered by anyone).”

However, Escudero said, “binibigyan ng kahulugan ng iba (others assume it has a different intention)” even if these assumptions are not stipulated in the proposed bill.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), for instance, has repeatedly expressed its opposition (which turned into partial support) against an anti-discrimination bill as it could open the door for the legalization of same-sex marriages in the Philippines; a position shared by others in Congress (e.g. Sen. Vicente Sotto III).

For Escudero, an anti-discrimination law simply states that “pantay-pantay ang bawat tao anuman ang kanilang sexual orientation, anuman ang kanilang paniniwala (everyone is equal irrespective of sexual orientation, or whatever their beliefs).”

Considering that passing an anti-discrimination law continues to be challenging, Escudero said that it is important to open the minds of the people, “lalo na ng ating mga mambabatas (more particularly our lawmakers),” he said.

Escudero added that often, this becomes an election issue, but afterwards, politicians forget about it. And so “mahalaga at imortante ang pagkakataong ito kung saan pinipili natin ang ating mga mambabatas… na alamin ang bawat isa (kung) ano ba ang kanilang posisyon sa bagay na ito, isusulong ba nila ‘yan o hindi (elections are valuable and important times when we select our lawmakers… to ask each of them what their position is on this matter, and if they will advocate for this or not).”

Escudero even suggested having a covenant that will specify this support; and that the LGBT community can use the same to remind politicians of their promise once they get into power.

May karapatan ang botante na hilingin yun sa mga kumakandidato at tanungin yun sa mga nagnanais manilbihan sa pamahalaan (Voters have the right to ask for this from political candidates, and ask for the same for those who want to serve in the government),” he said.

DEVELOPING A GENDER RECOGNITION LAW

In 2012, Escudero received flak from some in the transgender community in the Philippines.

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With Senate Bill 3113, Escudero sought to amend RA 9048, which authorizes the city or municipal civil registrar or the consul general to correct a clerical or typographical error in an entry and/or change the first name or nickname in the civil register without need of a judicial order.

Senate Bill 3113, however, expressly states that no petition for a change of gender by a person who has undergone sex change or sex transplant will be entertained.

The Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP), then helmed by Naomi Fontanos of GANDA Filipinas, violated the rights of trans Filipinos as human beings.

“But upon close inspection, you will see that RA 9048, the law that they seek to amend, is actually antitransgender in the first place, and… SB 3113 affirm(s) the transphobia inherent in RA 9048,” Fontanos was quoted as saying.

At that time, Escudero said that “there is no such intention (to violate anyone’s right). It simply seeks to facilitate and make easier corrections based on error and easily verifiable without that need to go through a complicated and expensive court process.”

Also, in a letter of clarification coming from Escudero’s office, the proposal from the trans community cannot be accommodated “since doing so would make the bill itself unconstitutional.”

The proposal, instead, was to have a “measure similar to or a magna carta may be drafted given the uniqueness of your position in Philippine society.”

Now aware of the transgender community’s need for a gender recognition law, Escudero said he was actually fascinated the first time he heard of this – “Fascinated in the sense that it’s advanced human rights; it’s advanced in the sense that everything in your license, everything in your birth certificate can now be determined by the person himself. Nothing to be determined by the accident of birth. That is advanced citizenship, and I am all for it,” he said. “Pabor ako at gusto kong makita ang ating bansa na may ganyang uri ng paggalang sa karapatang pantao (I am in favor of this and I want to see our country have this kind of respect to human rights).”

Escudero is, nonetheless, cognizant that this may not yet be timely considering that even the anti-discrimination bill is not progressing. However, for him, “hindi yan rason o dahilan para hindi simulang isulong (that’s not reason for people not to start pushing for this).”

WORSENING HIV SITUATION

In December 2015, the Department of Health’s (DOH) Epidemiology Bureau reported 650 new cases of HIV infections, which was 28% higher compared to the 2014 figure. Ninety-seven percent were male, with the median age of 27, and with more than half belonging to the 25-34 year age group, while 28% were youths belonging to the 15-24 year age group.

This continues the upward trend in HIV infections in the country, already shamed for being one of only a handful of countries where HIV infections continue to increase.

And with 88% of the sexually transmitted cases of HIV infection in the Philippines involving men who have sex with men (MSM, involving gay and bisexual men), HIV continues to be an issue for the LGBT community.

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For Escudero, the government should not pretend that there’s no problem. He believes that DOH and PhilHealth should have active roles here, such as in information dissemination, particularly in preventing HIV infection since “mas mura pa rin kasi yun kesa gamutin natin ang ating kababayang maysakit na. HIV or AIDS or anumang karamdaman, sana preventive ang mas pagtutuunan ng pansin (prevention is still cheaper than treating our fellow Filipinos who already have HIV, AIDS or any other ailment, so preventive efforts should be prioritized).”

But since there are already Filipinos with HIV, and since services continue to be lacking, Escudero is critical with the current responses.

“The services continue to be lacking because, I think, the government is trying to ignore it, the government is trying to look the other way, the government refuses to accept that there is a problem. The first step in resolving any problem is admitting that there is a problem. That the problem is increasing. That the problem is not so small that you can simply sweep it under the rug. It’s something that must be confronted by the government head-on,” he said.

Escudero added that this may also form part of the anti-discrimination efforts of the LGBT community since this affects its members and “pinipili marahil ng gobyerno na huwag masyadong tingnan, huwag masyadong pansinin ito. Pero para sa akin ang sakit ay sakit, ang buhay ay buhay at obligasyon ng pamahalaan na tiyakin at subukan at sikapin na iligtas ang buhay ng bawat mamamayan niya (maybe the government is choosing not to pay attention to this, not to give this as much attention. But for me, an illness is an illness, life is life, and it’s the government’s duty to ensure and try to save the lives of all its people).”

INTERCONNECTION OF LGBT ISSUES WITH PHL ISSUES

Perhaps to be taken as recognition (knowingly or not) of the interconnection of LGBT issues with other mainstream social issues, Escudero – with Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago – called for a review of the country’s Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US following the killing of 26-year-old transpinay Jennifer Laude in the hands of American serviceman Joseph Scott Pemberton.

Now, with policies still being developed, Escudero said that the ideal is to include minority sectors – e.g. in the case of the Bangsamoro Basic Law, for instance, which affects many LGBT people in Muslim areas.

Escudero said that the government’s panel’s decision to speak only with one group (the Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF) is the reason why Senate couldn’t pass it. “Dahil wala silang ibang kinausap, inakala nila na sila na lang ang mga nagmamay-ari ng lahat ng talento, galing, talino at magandang intensyon para sa ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) o BBL area (Because they didn’t talk to others, they assumed that they have the exclusive right over all talents, goodness, intelligence and good intentions for ARMM or BBL area),” Escudero said.

SHOULD LAWS BE MADE TO CHANGE CULTURE, OF SHOULD CULTURE BE RECEPTIVE BEFORE LAWS SHOULD BE MADE?

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Considering that a law can only do so much if the culture of intolerance perpetuates, Escudero was asked which should be prioritized: making laws (that may have a hard time getting implemented) or changing hearts and minds before laws are made.

“It’s a ‘chicken and egg’ thing. Minsan nauuna ang kultura at sumusunod ang batas; minsan nauuna ang batas at sumusunod ang kultura (Sometimes cultural change comes first before laws; and sometimes laws are made and cultural change follows),” he said.

Escudero said that for him, there are two principles to note here.

On the one hand, Escudero questions why it is okay to have personal relationships with LGBT people, but “pag usaping pangkalahatan na – komunidad at bansa na ang pinag-uusapan – bakit kailangang mag-iba yun? Kung tanggap at normal at okay sa pang-personal na lebel na relasyon, bakit biglang mag-iiba (when the issue shifts to community or national level, why do relationships with LGBT people change? If relationships with LGBT people are okay at the personal level, why should these change [at any level])?”

On the other hand, “ang batas inimbento, ang gobyerno inimbento para protektahan ang minoriya, para protektahan at pangalagaan ang karapatan nung konti, nung naaapi, nung marahil hindi kasing-kaya ipagtanggol ang kanilang sarili kumpara sa mas nakakaraming sektor o miyembro ng isang lipunan. Kung ganyang pananaw ang ating gagamitin, walang dahilan para hindi ipasa ang gender recognition law o anti-discrimination at iba pang batas na ang layunin ay bigyang pagpapahalaga at proteksyon ang sektor ng LGBT na maliwanag ay nasa minority ng ating lipunan (at) matagal nang hindi pinapansin at niyuyurakan at kailangan na pantayin ng batas (laws are inventions, the government is an invention to protect the minorities, to protect at look after the rights of the few, those who are oppressed, maybe those who cannot defend themselves compared to most in society. If that is the lens that we use, there’s no reason that laws like gender recognition and anti-discrimination or others that will give importance and protect the LGBT sector that is clearly not given attention and whose rights are trampled, and therefore should be made equal by law),” Escudero said.

For Escudero, “those who have less in life should have more in law.”

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION

Escudero says that for the LGBT community to continue pushing its issues, it has to know that “hindi illegal mag-lobby sa Kongreso (it is not illegal to lobby in Congress).”

Escudero said that often, when people speak with politicians, many immediately become suspicious that influence-peddling is happening. But he said that this is just “bahagi yun ng karapatan ninyo bilang mga mamamayan na paalalahanan ang inyong mga kinatawan (it is part of your right as citizens to remind your representatives).”

Escudero advocates having an LGBT representative in Congress; and for LGBT people to “makilahok kayo sa bawat usapin (join all discussions)”, with the latter, he said, gaining ground as more LGBT people come out to help change minds.

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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Metro Manila’s LGBT gathering breaks attendance records, highlights ubiquity of LGBT people if not causes

Showing growing widespread popularity of everything LGBT-related in the Philippines, Metro Manila’s annual LGBT gathering was attended by an estimated 25,000 people. Moving forward, the challenge is how to leverage this growing number of parade participants to actually push for policies promoting their human rights.

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ALL PHOTOS BY MICHAEL DAVID C. TAN

There but not there.

Perhaps showing growing widespread popularity of everything LGBT-related in the Philippines, Metro Manila’s annual LGBT gathering patterned after Western Pride celebration/s was attended by an estimated 25,000 people. Even if figures are wrong, this still easily topped last year’s 8,000 participants in the event that was held in Marikina City for two years now.

While the number is impressive as a show of force and as advertising magnet for those targeting the pink market, it – nonetheless – does not necessarily equate to promotion of LGBT causes in the Philippines.

Addressing the crowd, Nicky Castillo – again co-head of the organizing team – stressed the much-repeated call to see Pride not just as a one-day/month-long event, particularly since many members of the LGBT community continue to face hardships. This is particularly true to those whose SOGIE is interconnected with their being also members of other minority sectors, including Indigenous Peoples, persons with disability, religious minorities, et cetera.

Speaking to Outrage Magazine, Det Neri – chairperson of Bahaghari-Metro Manila – a multisectoral militant and nationalist LGBT organization based in Metro Manila – said that LGBT people encounter discrimination not only because of their SOGIE but also because they belong to “kinabibilangang uri”.

Lupa para sa mga magsasaka, pagwawakas ng contractualization, regularisasyon ng mga manggagawa kabilang na ang mga LGBT na manggagawa, edukasyon para sa kabataan kabilang ang LGBT na kabataan, self-determination para sa mga katutubo at mga Moro (Land for LGBT people who are also farmers, ending contractualization, regularization of workers including LGBT workers, education for the youth including LGBT youth, self determination of Indigenous Peoples and Muslims),” Neri said. “Ang punto: Ang laban ng LGBT ay laban ng mamamayan; ang laban ng mamamayan ay laban ng LGBT (The gist: The fight of LGBT people is the fight for people’s rights; and the fight for people’s rights is also the fight of LGBT people).”

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In a statement, Deaf transpinay Disney Aguila – president of Pinoy Deaf Rainbow and founder of TransDeaf Philippines – added that “joining a parade, hosting LGBT-related events, or even passing an anti-discrimination bill are good. But those are not enough. Real Pride happens when we’ve changed mindsets so that people of different SOGIE can take pride in their identity… including in their different abilities/disabilities.”

Moving forward, the challenge not just for Pride’s organizers but the Filipino LGBTQI community as a whole is how to leverage this growing number of parade participants to actually push for policies promoting their human rights. – WITH INTERVIEWS BY MICHAEL DAVID C. TAN

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The impetus for organizing LGBTQI Pride in the Phl

All year round, various parts of the Philippines host LGBTQI Pride marches/parades/events. But the very first one happened in Metro Manila, which Outrage Magazine revisits to see how the annual LGBTQI gathering continues to evolve.

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It was in 1994 when the very first Pride March was held in the Philippines (and in Asia). The Philippines was actually the pioneer in the region.

“There was no interference or harassment along the way, but a lot of noise and shouting in the ranks of the 50 or so marchers,” recalled Fr. Richard Mickley, who used to head Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in the Philippines. MCC held a mass during that first Pride March in the Philippines.

Aside from Mickley, Oscar Atadero – then with ProGay Philippines – helped make the event happen, along with the likes of Murphy Red, et al.

Incidentally, 1994 also marked the 25th year since the “modern” lesbian and gay movement “started”, thanks to the Stonewall Inn Riot in New York.

“We recognized that we now had open, not closeted, organizations. But the movement was still quiet or unknown. We felt we needed a (local) Stonewall,” Mickley continued.

So the date was set.

The route was planned.

As the small group of LGBT organizations marched along Quezon Avenue to Quezon Memorial Circle, they were confronted by the park police and was asked, “Where are you are you going?”

“We had no assembly permit. We sat by the roadside until the activists of ProGay ironed out the stumbling block. (After it was settled), we made our way to an assembly area with a stage,” Mickley said.

Aside from Fr. Richard Mickley, Oscar Atadero – then of ProGay Philippines – helped make the first LGBT Pride March in the Philippines happen, along with the likes of Murphy Red, et al.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FR. RICHARD MICKLEY

But in the end, “the first Pride March brought a publicity breakthrough. The purpose of the Pride March was realized – (to show) that the gay and lesbian people of the Philippines are real people, and they are not freaks in a closet,” Mickley added.

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CONTINUING PRIDE

In 1996,  several LGBT organizations formed the Task Force Pride (TFP), a community-driven organization that was to be in-charge of organizing the annual Pride March in Metro Manila.

“One of the highlights of the early years was that of 1998. The Pride March was part of the contingent of the National Centennial Parade, as the Philippines celebrated 100 years of independence. Let that sink in. We marched in front of two presidents at the Quirino Grandstand, just before the transition from Fidel Ramos to Joseph Estrada,” Mickley said.

Ten years later, the LGBT movement in the Philippines grew bigger and stronger. And the fight for equal rights was – finally – in everyone’s consciousness.

Metro Manila Pride March in 2011, when the annual gathering was still political.

TFP continued to organize the annual march – at least the one in Metropolitan Manila. As a network, it was headed by different members of the LGBT community, representing different organizations. Every decision, every move was derived from consultations by/from the participating groups and members.

“More than the celebration, what was really memorable was that despite the community coming from all walks of life and various agendas, sub agendas, locations, et al., it was great to see everyone working as one, for just one moment in a year,” Great Ancheta, one of the organizers of the 2004 and 2005 Pride celebrations, said.

There were years when Pride almost did not happen.

In 2013, Quezon City was supposed to host the annual Pride March, but the supposed organizer (the local government unit/LGU) opted to cancel the event to donate the funds collected to the victims of Typhoon Yolanda.

“I was rattled with the idea that there will be no Pride March that year. I had to call all possible LGBT advocates that could help me organize Pride in two weeks time,” Raffy Aquino, one of the organizers of the 2013 Pride celebrations, said.

The Pride march almost did not happen in 2013; but REAL community effort – with approximately P5,000 – still made it happen.

Aquino – with the likes of GANDA Filipinas, Outrage Magazine and Rainbow Rights Project – reached out to different organizations and establishments in Malate (at that time still thriving as the LGBT capital of the country).

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“We had more or less P5,000 in funds, which came from the previous TFP organizers. I even waited until six or seven in the evening in Manila City Hall, the day before the event, for the permit to be released,” Aquino added.

But the 2013 Pride March happened.

And then came 2014, when “a super typhoon hit the country at the same time when Pride was scheduled, and we nearly had to cancel. Despite that, people still attended. (And) understandably, it had the lowest turnout in years. But it still showed that for many people, celebrating Pride is still important,” Jade Tamboon, one of the organizers of the 2012 and 2013 Pride celebrations, said.

PRIDE HURDLES

Organizing an event like the Pride March is not an easy feat, with organizers needing to deal with different factors – both internal and external to the LGBT community.

Pride in 2015 remained political; even if the march also started to become as just a parade.

“Working with the local government was one of our challenges (during our) time. Securing permits was also hard. And of course, rallying up sponsors,” Ancheta said.

Since the LGBT community in the Philippines is (still) only tolerated and not widely accepted, getting supporters that could help the event happen has been the most common problem year after year.

“Financing Pride has always been a major challenge, then and now. People don’t realize how expensive it is to mount Pride. But there’s also the logistics – the sourcing of materials, permits and vendors – that’s another thing people rarely see when they go to a Pride celebration,” Tamboon said.

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He added, “this has been a perennial problem of the Pride organizers: early fund-raising. It may be because organizers have not come up with a solution, rather than raising funds so close to the event date.”

YOUNG PRIDE

Today, organizing Pride marches – or aptly, parades – is mostly dominated by the young members of the LGBT community. And – whatever their stands/positions may be on LGBT human rights – this is as should be/bound to happen, with the passing of the baton inevitable.

By 2017, the annual Pride has followed the Western format, with private companies supporting the parade, and some even co-opting the LGBTQI struggle.

But the younger generation have it somewhat easier. As Ancheta said, “Pride celebrations are not limited now to the Pride marches/parades or events, with support for Pride now coming from various companies as evidenced in social networking posts.”

There are now also numerous Pride-related events – whether in the form of marches or parades – in various parts of the Philippines, from Baguio City to Cebu City, Davao City to Iloilo City, Iligan City to the Province of Batangas, among others. Even within Metro Manila, other cities already started their own (separate) Pride marches/parades, finally “devolving” the so-called Metro Manila Pride parade (nee “march”).

But even if the expressions of Pride (now) vary, that sense of solidarity – and raising awareness via that solidarity – remains…

“The increased interest and participation during the recent years, especially among the younger people, is a success in itself. More and more people are unafraid to be out and to showcase their (so-called) Pride,” Tamboon added.

“The recent Pride celebrations are successful in terms of numbers; they were able to target a bigger audience and wider corporate supporters. The younger organizers are also creative and well-versed in branding and marketing. They were able to utilize social media and digital marketing,” Aquino stressed.

STRUGGLE NEEDS TO CONTINUE

But for Aquino, everyone needs to remember that “Pride is not just a one day event.”

“The LGBT community of the Philippines is no longer hidden, closeted or unknown. We are here; we are everywhere – with our heads held high,” Mickley said. “We are on the way, (but) we are (still) seeking equality in the human family,” Mickley said.

*Interview requests were also sent to other past Pride organizers, but – as of press time – Outrage Magazine did not receive any response from them.

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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.

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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.”

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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.”

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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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Extreme exposure: Journal of a traveling exhibitionist

An interview with a gay Filipino exhibitionist who is unable to stop with what he is doing despite knowing that indecent exposure is: 1) considered a mental health issue, and 2) considered gross indecency, which is a serious criminal offense. As he eyes to enjoy this phase in his life, “go lang nang go (just do it),” he says.

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“I think I’m doing it because I want attention.”

Twenty-three year old Twinky (not his real name) is somewhat forthright about his exhibitionism, recognizing that he does what he does because he wants people to pay attention to him.

In truth, over four years ago, Twinky met a guy who liked having sex in public. That was – in a way – his initiation into exhibitionism, since he admitted “getting excited” having sex with that guy in the open.

Prior to that, Twinky said that his view of any person into exhibitionism was somewhat clouded; but that this guy broke this expectation because he looked “respectable” and was even “very smart” so that “I learned a lot from him”. This guy’s “exhibitionist side” couldn’t be deduced by just looking at him.

But just as Twinky was falling for this guy, he left to live overseas. This devastated Twinky, so that he started doing all by himself what they did together in the past. He recorded this, and then posted it online.

“I never thought that people would also be excited about this,” he said. “I posted the videos to get his attention; instead, maraming (iba) and nakapansin (others started paying attention to them).”

These people – many of them strangers following his Twitter account – messaged him to tell him “ang galing (that’s awesome)” and “malakas ang loob (you’re gutsy).” These served as validation for Twinky, so that – he said – the guy he liked may have continued to ignore him, but at least others already started giving him the attention he desired.

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As of writing, Twinky’s Twitter account already has over 19,500 followers. To put that in perspective, Sen. Leila de Lima’s Twitter account only has 13,420 followers; while Cong. Geraldine B. Roman’s has 4,295 followers.

And so “na-engganyo ako lalo (this enticed me to do more)” until this became a regular thing to do for him (related to his alter account).

BARING THE BARING

In a gist, as written by George R. Brown, MD, “Exhibitionistic Disorder” in MSD Manual, “exhibitionism is characterized by achievement of sexual excitement through genital exposure, usually to an unsuspecting stranger. It may also refer to a strong desire to be observed by other people during sexual activity.”

But Brown also noted that “most exhibitionists do not meet the clinical criteria for a exhibitionistic disorder.” Also, it is diagnosed as exhibitionistic disorder “only if the condition has been present for ≥ 6 months and if patients have acted on their sexual urges with a nonconsenting person or their behavior causes them significant distress or impairs functioning.”

But just to be clear, exhibitionistic practices are sanctionable by existing laws.

The Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, for instance, has specific provisions that offend “decency and good customs”, to wit:

Art. 336. Acts of lasciviousness. — Any person who shall commit any act of lasciviousness upon other persons of either sex, under any of the circumstances mentioned in the preceding article, shall be punished by prision correccional.

Art. 200. Grave scandal. — The penalties of arresto mayor and public censure shall be imposed upon any person who shall offend against decency or good customs by any highly scandalous conduct not expressly falling within any other article of this Code.

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GOING AT IT

That he may be castigated (and even penalized) does occur to Twinky; but – surprisingly – this does not prevent him from exhibitionism.

Twinky’s “magic hours” are from 12.00 midnight to past 3.00AM.

He goes to locations far from where he lives; and before doing anything there, he scouts the place first to make sure that there are no CCTV cameras there (and that the place is, by and large, not going to put him in danger).

This is also his “protection” re illegality of his act.

If the place is conducive for exhibitionism, he then preps his phone to get a video (or ask someone to video him) as he goes about his business.

And “you’d be surprised,” he said, that “90% of those who see me, sumasali sila o nanonood (join or watch me). And that excites me.”

For Twinky, this is worth stressing: No, he does NOT want women to see him; instead, he prefers masculine and muscled men (preferably twinks or twink-ish).

By the time he reaches 30, Twinky hopes not to do this anymore, as he eyes to be “stable” in life – e.g. have a good job, and maybe find a partner in life. “There’d be no place for me to do these things.”

FUTURE FORWARD

Twinky is actually conscious about the videos he posts in his alter account – e.g. he won’t post those that clearly identify him; or he would alter sections that would lead these back to him.

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He knows that this is/may be categorized as a mental illness, but that “it’s what excites me.” He never considered seeking professional help since he doesn’t believe he is addicted to it. “I would know,” he said, adding that maybe if he feels he is becoming addicted, he would seek professional help because “I realize the importance of mental health.”

By the time he reaches 30, Twinky also hopes not to do this anymore, as he eyes to be “stable” in life – e.g. have a good job, and maybe find a partner in life. “There’d be no place for me to do these things.”

No, he isn’t worried his family may know of what he’s doing. He said that the people who may tell his relatives are – themselves – keeping secrets, so he doubts they would out him. For instance, he encountered his brother’s closeted gay friend in Grindr, and this initially scared him since this guy may out Twinky to his family (i.e. they do not even know he’s gay). But since this guy is also not out as a gay guy to his friends, he didn’t inform on Twinky.

In the end, “if someone asks ‘Hindi ka ba nandidiri sa ginagawa mo (Are you not disgusted with what you’re doing)?’ I just smile. I can’t please everyone. I I can’t make them understand where I’m coming from. And if that’s the point, I don’t think there’s a point for me to explain my side.” – With Russelle Dagdayan

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Acceptance of LGBTQI people and rights has increased around the world

New research finds average levels of acceptance for LGBT people and rights have increased globally since 1980, though acceptance has become more polarized, increasing in the most accepting countries and decreasing in the least.

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PHOTO TAKEN DURING Taiwan LGBT Pride 2015

Moving forward.

New research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds average levels of acceptance for LGBT people and rights have increased globally since 1980, though acceptance has become more polarized, increasing in the most accepting countries and decreasing in the least.

In a series of new studies, researchers developed and utilized a groundbreaking new measure of LGBT inclusion, called the Global Acceptance Index, which ranked 141 countries on their relative level of social acceptance of LGBT people and rights. LGBT acceptance refers to social beliefs about LGBT people as well as the prevailing opinion about laws and policies that protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination and promote their equality and well-being.

“Very few surveys conducted about LGBT people and issues provide sufficient data for global, cross-national comparisons of public opinion about LGBT people and rights,” said lead author Andrew R. Flores, visiting scholar at the Williams Institute. “The Global Acceptance Index provides a consistent and comparable way to measure attitudes and attitude change, which could better understand inclusion of LGBT people in many areas of social, economic, and political life.”

In Polarized Progress: Social Acceptance of LGBT People in 141 Countries, researchers analyzed findings from 11 cross-national, global and regional surveys and found that 80 countries (57%) experienced increases in acceptance. Forty-six countries (33%) experienced a decline in acceptance and 15 countries (11%) were unchanged. The analysis showed that the most accepting countries were Iceland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Andorra; they were also the countries with the greatest increase in LGBT acceptance since 1980. Conversely, the analysis showed that the least accepting countries have become less accepting over time.

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Two additional studies used the Global Acceptance Index to analyze the effects of LGBT acceptance and inclusion. Examining the Relationship between Social Acceptance of LGBT People and Legal Inclusion of Sexual Minorities found that democracies with a commitment to a free press and the rule of law had the strongest relationship. However, the relationship between acceptance and legal inclusion becomes weaker in shrinking civic spaces, such as autocracies and anocracies.

A third study, Links between Economic Development and New Measures of LGBT Inclusion, tested previous findings that linked inclusion of LGBT people to a country’s economic performan­­ce. Researchers used three new measures of LGBT inclusion: the Global Acceptance Index, the Legal Count Index, which tallies the number of LGBT-supportive laws in a country, and the Legal Environment Index, which measures the patterns of adoption of laws. All three measures showed a positive correlation between LGBT inclusion and GDP per capita.

Key findings include

  • The Legal Count Index: Having one additional legal right was associated with an increase of $1,694 in GDP per capita.
  • Countries with the most inclusive Legal Environment Index showed a statistically significant addition of $8,259 in GDP per capita.
  • A one-point increase in the Global Acceptance Index was associated with an increase in GDP per capita of $1,506.
  • The legal measures appeared to be stronger predictors than social acceptance.
  • Legal rights and social acceptance may be stronger predictors of GDP per capita when combined than when they are alone.

“Social and legal inclusion has implications for global economic development policies,” said lead author M.V. Lee Badgett, a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the Williams Institute. “Programs that reduce violence, stigma and discrimination against LGBT people and policies that enhance access to education and health care will allow LGBT people the opportunity to realize their full economic potential, which will benefit the overall economy.”

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These reports were produced as part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Global Development Partnership. The Partnership was founded in 2012 and brings together the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the Arcus Foundation, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, the Williams Institute, the Swedish Federation for LGBTQ Rights (RFSL), and other corporate, non-profit, and non-governmental organization resource partners.

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