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Ladlad for change

Established in 2003 as a political party for LGBT Filipinos, Ladlad has already faced numerous challenges – from being refused by the COMELEC twice, to the continuing challenge of unifying LGBTs in the Philippines. But as it observes its 9th anniversary, it celebrates what it has done so far, as it eyes doing even more by winning a seat in Congress in 2013.

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When Ladlad was founded as a Filipino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) political party on September 21, 2003 by Danton Remoto, associate professor of English at Ateneo de Manila University, its thrust was said to be to fight for equal rights for all Filipinos. For being LGBT-linked, though, a birth-pain Ladlad had to experience was to be denied recognition by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) – TWICE.  When it applied for party-list accreditation in 2007, it was denied accreditation supposedly because it lacked regional membership in the Philippines. And when it applied again for party-list accreditation in 2010, it was again denied accreditation, this time on the grounds of immorality.  In a ruling released on November 11 that year, the COMELEC acknowledged that the party presented proper documents and evidence for their accreditation, but its petition is “dismissable on moral grounds.” Particularly, page 5 of the ruling stated Ladlad’s definition of the LGBT sector as a marginalized sector disadvantaged because of their sexual orientation “makes it crystal clear that the petitioner tolerates immorality which offends religious beliefs.”

At that time, Ladlad filed a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) to reverse the COMELEC decision denying the group accreditation for the party-list elections, noting that the very denial of accreditation is an “example of society’s marginalization of LGBT” Filipinos, with the resolution demonizing the LBGT community by “accusing us of indulging in imaginary acts of immorality that the poll body deems ‘a threat to the youth’. More importantly, the resolution violates rights guaranteed under the Constitution and laws of universal application.”

On January 12, 2010, the SC granted a temporary restraining order to allow Ladlad to participate in the elections.  On April 8, 2010, the SC allowed it to join the elections.  Unfortunately, the party only received 113,187 votes (0.37%), which was below the optional 2% threshold, and so was unable to win a seat in Congress.

FOR A BRIGHTER FUTURE
“The immediate plan is to mobilize resources so that we can competitively campaign for our party in the 2013 elections. We need to win because this is very crucial moment for us,” Bemz Benedito said. The focus is to “win, win and win in the midterm elections. It’s about time to represent LGBTs in Congress and fulfill the realization of our platform.”

As the group turned nine years old, and with the next national elections slated in 2013, Ladlad is said to have “blossomed” from a struggling organization into a seasoned political organization.

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As Bemz Benedito, Ladlad’s first Congressional nominee, put it, “in the last nine years, we’ve blossomed from a struggling organization to a complete and seasoned political organization for LGBT Filipinos (which is different from other LGBT organizations) that strives to unify all LGBT individuals and groups to advance LGBT friendly policies and laws, and empower LGBTs who are in the closet, discriminated, poor and handicapped,” she said.

It helps that “from our reputation before to be mobilized by LGBT advocates in ‘Imperial Manila’, we’ve maneuvered our movement to the grassroots by creating local chapters in the provinces. In 2007, when we were denied accreditation based on the lack of national constituency because we didn’t have chapters in majority of the regions of the country, now I am proud to say that between 2008 to present, we’ve covered 15 regions out of 17, and 70 provinces out of 80.”

Benedito explained that “the paradigm of Ladlad is different compared to other partylist (groups since) we started in the middle class (i.e. the founding members are middle class) going to the grassroots. And we are proving it that we can do this movement distinctively. We’ve increased our membership tremendously in the past nine years from a thousand to more than 60,000 members now.”

Ladlad’s platform remains the same, i.e. re-filing of the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB) to give LGBT Filipinos equal opportunities in employment and equal treatment in schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, entertainment centers, and government offices; setting up of micro-finance and livelihood projects for poor and handicapped LGBT Filipinos; and the setting up of centers for old and abandoned LGBTs, as well as young ones driven out of their homes (the same centers will also offer legal aid and counseling, as well as information about LGBT issues, HIV and AIDS, and reproductive health).

MAKING PROGRESS

Even sans a seat in Congress, Ladlad has been making progress.

In the past nine years, among the biggest achievements are: the recognition of Ladlad as a focal point of the media for LGBT issues and concerns “so that is creating a high visibility not just for Ladlad but for the advocacy,” Benedito said; recognition of the group as a political organization that directly and indirectly defends the human rights of LGBT Filipinos; and its recognition as a political organization that partners and supports other LGBT organizations and their specific concerns, such as the Pink Watch, CDO PLUs, Pinoy Deaf Rainbow, LakanBini of Baseco Port Area Manila, Gay Achievers or GAYAC of Sta. Ana Manila, LGBTs of Bustos Bulacan, and others.

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The group has even gone global through the efforts of its members abroad, like Ladlad Europa, Ladlad Middle East, Ladlad Japan, Ladlad USA and partnering with Fil Mo (a lesbian group in London for community outreach programs). It is also one of the few LGBT organizations regularly invited by universities and colleges to speak on LGBT rights and LGBT politics.

Since the group now has a staffed and equipped national headquarters, thanks to the support of TV personality Boy Abunda, Ladlad senior adviser, the group has been able to focus on “continuously developing (members of the) younger generation to lead Ladlad in different capacities. Hindi namin ipinagdadamot ang partido at hindi ekslusibo sa mga matagal na sa adbokasiya lamang kundi para sa lahat na gustong tumulong, may dedikasyon at handang maglabas sa sariling bulsa,” Benedito said.

Benedito added: “Generally, we focus more in empowering and organizing LGBT individuals and groups here in the country, and we don’t claim to represent all LGBT Filipinos because we acknowledge the fact that not all LGBT Filipinos subscribe to the mission, vision and platform of Ladlad. Masaya na kami na ang mas nakararami lalo sa mga probinsiya ay nagtitiwala at nakasuporta sa laban ng Ladlad. That is enough achievement.”

EFFECTING CHANGES

Benedito believes that Ladlad is making headway in effecting changes for the LGBT Filipinos.  “By empowering many LGBT lives that we should not be relegated as third class citizens; by letting them understand that we have human rights like anybody else; by inculcating in them that it is not depressing, gloomy or deplorable to be LGBT so suicide is not the answer; by informing them that we need to fight for a representation in Congress because there are no policies or laws that protect them and there are laws existing that can be used against them. We continue to give a positive, pleasant, feisty but respectful face to LGBT Filipinos when we get interviewed. All of these are initial changes that making headway to the community and when we get to Congress, we can give them more in terms of laws and programs to champion them,” she said.

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There remain challenges, Benedito admitted.

For one, a “continuing problem is that some personalities do not believe or trust the leadership of Ladlad,” she said, “but this is inevitable and you can never please everybody. I just hope that our advocacy is greater than our personal differences.”

It doesn’t help, too, that as Ladlad’s popularity grows, there are actually members of the LGBT community that attempt to use if for personal interests.  There have been reported cases, for instance, when members of the LGBT community attempt to ask for money from various offices, claiming that the same will be used by Ladlad.  Such moves “ruin the good name of Ladlad,” Benedito said.

Then there are “those LGBTs belonging to the upper class and middle class who cannot relate to the advocacy because they are doing very well in life and have never experienced discrimination. So we have to explain to them that they have to help this community especially for those who are not as fortunate as them in life and we are going to strengthen our platform so that it caters to all sectors and all social classes in the LGBT community. In any development work, the focus must be to all that we seek to represent.”

Also, “we encounter LGBT individuals who think that Ladlad is all about dole-out. We help as much as we can even if we don’t have resources, but we have to instill in them that Ladlad is towards legislative work, where the voice of LGBT Filipinos are heard and consulted when a law or policy is crafted.”

All eyes are now in the 2013 elections.

“The immediate plan is to mobilize resources so that we can competitively campaign for our party in the 2013 elections. We need to win because this is very crucial moment for us,” Benedito said.  The focus is to “win, win and win in the midterm elections. It’s about time to represent LGBTs in Congress and fulfill the realization of our platform.”

For more information on Ladlad, visit Unit 3-C 4K Plaza, 677 Shaw Blvd., Brgy. Kapitolyo, 1603 Pasig City; call telefax (+63 2) 584 8029; call/send SMS to (+63) 917 8LADLAD (+63 0917 8523523); or visit http://www.ladladpartylist.blogspot.com/.

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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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