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Now illegal to discriminate against LGBTs in Baguio City

The ‘Anti-discrimination Ordinance of the City of Baguio’ notes that “discrimination is a crucial and serious issue” and it wants to ensure that “every person… be given equal access to opportunities in all fields of human endeavor and to equitable sharing of social and economic benefits for them to freely exercise the rights to which they are rightfully entitled, free from any prejudice and discrimination.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF AMIANAN PRIDE COUNCIL

Discrimination be gone.

It is now illegal to discriminate against LGBT people in Baguio, with the city becoming the latest to pass an anti-discrimination ordinance.

Known as the “Anti-discrimination Ordinance of the City of Baguio”, Ordinance No. 13 (Series of 2017) notes that “discrimination is a crucial and serious issue” affecting members of the LGBT community; just as it also “pervades especially against persons with disability, senior citizens, people living with HIV, people with different religious persuasions and indigenous peoples.” It therefore wants to ensure that “every person… be given equal access to opportunities in all fields of human endeavor and to equitable sharing of social and economic benefits for them to freely exercise the rights to which they are rightfully entitled, free from any prejudice and discrimination.”

Prohibited acts included in the ADO include:

  • Discrimination in political participation
  • Access to public places, facilities and public meetings
  • Right to organize
  • Discrimination in education materials, advertisement and mass media
  • Engaging in profiling
  • Discrimination through speeches, utterances, and acts of hatred
  • Detention and confinement
  • Abuses by State/non-State actors
  • Denial of right to work
  • Denial of right to education
  • Access to goods and services
  • Discrimination on accommodation/lodging establishment
  • Inflicting stigma
  • Inciting others to commit acts of discrimination
  • Inflicting harm on health and well-being

According to Rev. Pastor Michael Angelo “Myke” A. Sotero of the Metropolitan Community Church-Metro Baguio (MCCMB), who pushed for the passage of the ADO, this is relevant because “finally, we have an ordinance that would protect LGBT people from discrimination.”

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Sotero also expressed happiness in the local law as it “recognizes gender identity”, since “we have many issues in the past when transgender people were discriminated when they used using public toilets, as well (when they were forced to comply with discriminatory) university dress codes that (forced them to wear clothes that do) not conform to their gender identity. These issues are important issues that the ADO can hopefully address and further educate the public on SOGIE.”

While the vice mayor of Baguio City, Edison Bilog, authored the ADO, “it was through the collective effort of the LGBT community and other marginalized sectors, such as senior citizens groups, PWDs, women’s groups and IP groups – who worked for the passage of the ADO,” Sotero said.

Particularly on the part of the LGBT community, picking up the cudgels for the fight for equal rights were MCCMB, Rainbow Barracks, Amianan Pride Council, Amnesty International, UP Babaylan, Ozark Diners, and Dap-ay Bar.

“It was not the effort of one particular group or individual,” Sotero stressed, “but a collective effort of past and present advocates for equality.”

Penalties for discriminatory acts range from P1,000 or imprisonment or both (for the first offense) to P5,000 or imprisonment or both (for the third offense).

While the local LGBT community in Baguio City is now eyeing to “push for the enactment of an anti-discrimination bill in Congress, which is long overdue,” Sotero said, “we also would support efforts to have every major cities and provinces enact their own version/s of the ADO in places where there is none.” And once an anti-discrimination law becomes a reality, “it’s time to push for other equality initiatives like marriage equality, divorce and amendments to the AIDS law (RA8504).”

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