Connect with us

Editor's Picks

There but not there (A closer look at forced LGBT invisibility)

Roxas City in the Province of Capiz as a study of forced LGBT invisibility in the Philippines.

Published

on

ROXAS CITY, PROVINCE OF CAPIZ – Sometime in 2016, 19-year-old Roxas local Kyla* started “walking” the streets of the city and sell herself as a way to make a living. It wasn’t that hard of a decision, she said with a wide smile, summing up her decision with “nasasarapan na ako, kumikita pa ako; reklamo pa ba ako (I’m already having fun, and I earn from it; what’s there to complain about)?”

But behind the smile-shrouded somewhat simplistic justification are layers after layers of LGBT-related issues touching on each other.

WORKING THE STREETS

Kyla was already in college when she stopped going to school. “Walang pera (No money),” she stated in a matter-of-fact way. At that time, she said she looked for a job to make a living, and then she came across the other sex workers who ply themselves in the plaza in Roxas City.

Kinaibigan ko sila (I befriended them),” she said, adding that while no one specifically told her to enter the sex industry, she was told “kayang-kaya mo ito (this will be an easy job for you).”

The rest – as the cliché goes – is history.

It wasn’t that hard of a decision to do sex work, Kyla said with a wide smile, summing up her decision with “nasasarapan na ako, kumikita pa ako; reklamo pa ba ako (I’m already having fun, and I earn from it; what’s there to complain about)?”

Nowadays, Kyla works almost every day, servicing up to three to four clients a day. It’s needed, she said, if she wants to earn “an okay living.” She charges P150 for oral sex; P300 for anal sex. And no, she insisted, she will not “top” (play the insertive role when having sex) “kasi babaeng babae ako (because I play the stereotypical role of a woman).”

The expanse of the city’s plaza – from the narrow street in front of Land Bank of the Philippines to the front of the city hall/church of the Immaculate Concepcion to the front of the provincial capitol – is sort of divided according to the SOGIE of the sex workers, with transwomen, women and men plying the areas, respectively. At times, though, the workers congregate, such as when dealing with common threats.

There are perils that come with the job, obviously.

Mga pulis, nanghuhuli (Policemen detain us),” she said. “Lahat ng dahilan ibibigay nila – bagansiya daw, menor daw kami, at kung ano-ano pa (They give various reasons when they arrest us – from the anti-vagrancy law (already legally rescinded, though obviously not known by many), to us being minors, or whatever).”

It is not uncommon seeing “some of us scamper,” she said.

And then there are the verbal abuses hurled at them, at times escalating to risks of getting physically abused “usually ng mga lasing na pumupunta sa plaza para maghanap ng aliw (by drunk men who come to the plaza to look for fun),” she said. Again, the scampering happens.

Of course, “naiisip din naming parati na ma-Jennifer Laude (the thought of experiencing what slain transwoman Jennifer Laude experienced also enter our minds),” she said. One time, she recalled a client who wanted to tie her up, and cut her arms with a blade. “Trips na nakakatakot (Fetishes that can be scary).”

Kyla knows of the necessity of using condoms to prevent getting sexually transmitted infections (STIs). When asked where she gets her supplies of condoms and lubes, she said “binibili ko ang condoms, pero… ano’ng lube (I buy my condoms; but… what’s lube)?”

READ:  Phl’s HIV and AIDS policy about to be strengthened

At 19, Kyla, by the way, isn’t the youngest among these sex workers.

A regularly cited plaza “character” is 16-year-old Ronnie*, also a freelance sex worker who is said to similarly work the streets of Roxas City. As narrated, similar to Kyla’s case, Ronnie’s life exemplifies forked concerns.

This Ronnie is said to be the eldest of 10 kids. His father, at 49, is a mang-uuling (coal-maker) in one of the barangays some five to six kilometers away from downtown Roxas City. His 39-year-old mom stays at home to look after all the other kids. He was 13 years old when he stopped going to school to start working for a construction company. Usually, he’s tasked to mix concrete, carry stuff from one area to another, or – generally – just do as the foreman would tell him. For this, Ronnie supposedly takes home around P2,500 per week. As a minor, Ronnie isn’t legally employed; and as such, his pay is under-the-table. Everything he earns, he sends back to his mom.

Now, as shared, since Ronnie’s less-than-P2,500-per-week earning is not enough to feed his nine siblings and his parents (his dad only earns from P500 per week for making coals), he was said to have been “forced” to look for another way to earn. And so – only last year – when a close friend told him to “kadto sa plaza kung way kuwarta (go to the plaza if you’re broke),” Ronnie was said to be introduced to the sex industry.

And there, in the plaza, regulars talk about how the 16-year-old approached a transwoman, allegedly asking her if she wanted “nga muduwa (to play).” She supposedly agreed to pay him P200 to “play”. He supposedly “topped” her sans protection.

Information like this bring to the fore how the issues of the likes of Kyla and Ronnie aren’t as clear-cut as they seem.

There’s sex work, long considered as the “oldest profession in the world”, though – perhaps particularly in contexts like the Philippines – it continues not to be given proper attention; or if at all, always in maligned ways. That there’s propensity to dismiss this as just “due to poverty”, there’s more to the issue than meet the eyes.

Republic Act No. 10364 (Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012), which amended the earlier RA 9208, declares unlawful “prostitution”, here defined to refer to “any act, transaction, scheme or design involving the use of a person by another, for sexual intercourse or lascivious conduct in exchange for money, profit or any other consideration.”

Kyla may have been “forced” into her line of work by her circumstance, but she’s first to say “dili ko prosti (I’m not a prostitute); I’m a sex worker.” That distinction, at least as far as the country’s law is concerned, is non-existent, so that Kyla and people like her are involuntarily forcibly obscured.

A SIDE NOTE: Not surprisingly, when RA 10175 (Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012) was passed as a law, among the sectors whose silence was notable was the LGBT community, even if some of its provisions may be deemed anti-LGBT or at least not informed by realities in the lives of LGBT people. For instance, Chapter II (Punishable Acts) of RA 10175 considered as an offense “cybersex”, which was defined as “the willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration.” Again, sex work – not just prostitution – happens online (also involving LGBT people), which the law fails to even consider.

READ:  How to be a model ciTizen

The case of Ronnie is even trickier, obviously, because he’s a minor.

Speaking to Outrage Magazine, local (and grassroots) LGBT leaders Charmel Catalan and Simplicio Vito Jr. claimed familiarity with “hate crimes sa (in) Roxas City.” Among commonly (and frequently) shared such stories include: the bashing of a trans woman na napag-tripan (because some people just felt like it); sex work-related ill-treatment; and killings.

A related issue is HIV.

It is worth noting that the HIV/ AIDS & ART Registry of the Philippines (HARP), for one, only started to include those who engage in transactional sex (or those who report that they pay for sex, regularly accept payment for sex, or do both) in 2012, as if it’s a completely new development. But even with the delayed inclusion, a total of 3,941 HIV cases were already reported in HARP from December 2012 to May 2017. Ninety-six percent (3,769) were male and 4% (172) were female. For May 2017, in particular, of the 105 reported cases of HIV infections engaged in transactional sex, most (92%) were male whose ages ranged from 16 to 60 years (median: 28 years).

Suffice to say – or, for those who’d argue, even if it’s just insinuated – that the young: already actively engage in sexual relations, and put themselves at risk (for instance, HIV infection) with their behavior/s. Kyla and Ronnie may well be good examples here.

Particularly because there are community-reported cases like minor Ronnie, Outrage Magazine reached out to the City Social Welfare Development (CSWD) while in Roxas City to specifically ask about local efforts pertaining trafficking of minors here, but no one wanted to speak on an official capacity AS OF PRESS TIME. Instead, the non-official statement given was to “look at the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 (RA 9208)”, which the CSWD supposedly follows; and to “only interview us when the proper authorities already agreed for this interview to take place because we’re always busy”.

Still, in the first quarter of 2016 alone, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) reported 2,147 cases of child abuse, with more than one–fourth of these cases said to be sexual nature. This number was nearly half of the total 4,374 child abuse cases reported in the entire year of 2015.

Surprisingly, a local Roxas City government official (who only gave an answer on this issue on the condition of anonymity) alleged that “walang sex workers sa Roxas City (there are no sex workers in Roxas City).” Officially, she purported, the stance is that “these sex workers came from places like Iloilo City. They take the last trip to Roxas City, work here, then take the first trip out of Roxas City to return home after the night is over.”

This, obviously, belies the very existence of the likes of Kyla and Ronnie.

AGAINST LGBT PERSONHOOD

Beyond the streets of Roxas City, however, are other LGBT-related stories that fail to gain mainstream traction.

Speaking to Outrage Magazine, local (and grassroots) LGBT leaders Charmel Catalan and Simplicio Vito Jr. claimed familiarity with “hate crimes sa (in) Roxas City.” Among commonly (and frequently) shared such stories include: the bashing of a trans woman na napag-tripan (because some people just felt like it); sex work-related ill-treatment; and even killings.

When validated, particularly the killings, no SOGIE of the people involved were mentioned to the police, so that these were not treated as crimes committed particularly against LGBT people. As such – and instead – “kami-kami lang nakaka-alam (it’s only us who know),” Vito said.

READ:  Slumber Party: Not just a slapstick movie?

From the local LGBT community, “siguro (perhaps) two to three cases of LGBT-related hate crimes happen every year,” Vito said.

That this creates fear in the local LGBT community is a given, Catalan said. “But after a week or two, balik normal (things go back to how they were),” she said. “May magagawa ka ba (It’s not like there’s anything we can do about this)!?”

BEING LEFT BEHIND

Ma. Fe S. Salgado, Health Education & Promotions Officer III of Roxas City, lamented the different – not just slow – responses related to HIV in Roxas City, and even the Province of Capiz.

In April 2017, the Province of Capiz already had 107 accumulated cases of HIV infection. “The number has been rising,” Salgado said to Outrage Magazine, “so we’ve been alarmed.”

It is this that drove the local government unit (LGU) to establish its own (satellite) treatment hub so that they can start “at least giving antiretroviral medicines (ARVs), provide counseling and treat common opportunistic infections (OIs).”

But there remain numerous challenges in their HIV-related efforts that also highlight forced invisibility if not of LGBT people, then at least of LGBT issues.

For one, when giving lectures about HIV in local educational institutions, “we’ve been forced to amend the key messages,” Salgado said. The ABC of safer sex, for instance, now no longer reflects A=Abstinence, B=Be mutually faithful, and C=Correct and consistent condom use. Instead, there have been instances when “C” was made to refer to “Close relationship to God.” This approach, Salgado said, “negates the fact that young people –including men who have sex with men – are already exposed to sex even at a young age. (Sans provision of knowledge,) they are not recognized and therefore not served.”

There’s also the issue of not being updated re current HIV-related approaches. People living with HIV in these parts of the country are referred to Iloilo City, where the treatment hub accredited by the Department of Health (DOH) is located. But there, there are practices that remain backward – e.g. allegedly not giving ARVs to PLHIVs unless they reach the AIDS stage, and even if the (inter)national policy is to start treatment as soon possible (not only when someone gets sick); and alleged withholding of giving life-saving services due to the continued delays in releasing confirmatory results from Metro Manila.

Metro Manila’s HIV practices may already be deemed backward in various aspects when compared to Western practices (e.g. availability of newer ARVs, PrEP, U=U). But outside Metro Manila, “mas malala yata (it may be worse),” Salgado said.

Sadder still, these issues do not enter mainstream discourses; and that non-inclusion highlights the invisibility.

Roxas City may be said to be developing; but are LGBT people being left behind?

AND LIFE GOES ON…

Kyla thinks she’ll continue working the streets “hanggang may ma-save ako; mag-aaral siguro ulit (until I save enough; perhaps I’d go back to school),” she said. But at 19, “tingan natin. Hindi pa siguro agad-agad (we’ll see; it may not happen immediately).”

She said she knows the risks; “kahit na di pinag-uusapan o ayaw pag-usapan (even if no one talks about them or no one wants to talk about these issues).”

From the city hall, stories swirled about an attempt to tackle at least one of the LGBT-related issues. A councilor – Dr. Cesar Yap – is said to have expressed interest in filing a local ordinance to provide restrooms for LGBT people. Outrage Magazine went to the city hall, including in the office of Dr. Yap and the office of the secretary of the Sangguniang Panglungsod; but not a single person knows of the existence of such an ordinance.

At night along Roxas St., Kyla said “you’d see us. Andito lang kami. Pero kung makikita niyo lang kami (We’re just here. But only if you really see us).”

*NAMES CHANGED TO PROTECT THE PRIVACY OF THE INTERVIEWEES

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).

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Protected by WP Anti Spam

Editor's Picks

‘God loves LGBTQIA people; so do we.’

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

Published

on

God’s love is for all.

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

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

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

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

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

READ:  Merck and Beth: ‘Fuck the haters’

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

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

Finding room for #queerinfaith

Continue Reading

#KaraniwangLGBT

All hail the beauty queen

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

Published

on

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

“I feel accepted.”

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

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

FINDING ACCEPTANCE

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

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

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

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

The rest of her family did, too.

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

READ:  Merck and Beth: ‘Fuck the haters’

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

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

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

FORMING A FAMILY

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

READ:  Experiencing the rush of my first Pride

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

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

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

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

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

A TIME TO SHINE

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

READ:  Helping make an all-embracing Church

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

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

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

Continue Reading

Editor's Picks

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.

Published

on

IMAGE DETAIL FROM jahcordova FROM PIXABAY.COM

Pride comes to the “City of Love”.

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

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

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

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

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

READ:  8 Ways to know we’ve sold ‘Pride’

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

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

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

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

READ:  Thomson Reuters earns perfect score on HRC's 2015 Corporate Equality Index

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.

Continue Reading

Editor's Picks

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).”

Published

on

IMAGE DETAIL FROM JUDGE FLORENTINO FLORO FROM WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

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

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

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

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

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

READ:  Who gets the chance to get in?

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.

Continue Reading

Editor's Picks

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

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

Published

on

“We” in diversity.

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

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

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

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

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

READ:  Experiencing the rush of my first Pride

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

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

Continue Reading

Editor's Picks

LGBTQI Filipinos lament uphill battle for passage of ADB in Senate

The Anti-discrimination Bill (ADB) that will protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos may not see the light of day, considering the current pace of its (non)development in the Senate, where it continues to languish.

Published

on

The Anti-discrimination Bill (ADB) that will protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos may not see the light of day. This is considering the current pace of its (non)development in the Senate, where it continues to languish.

(Re)filed in the 17th Congress on December 7, 2016 as Senate Bill No. 1271 by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the legislative status of the ADB is still listed as “Pending Second Reading, Special Order (12/14/2016)” in the official website of the Philippine Senate. As per the office of Sen. Hontiveros, SB 1271 is still only up for interpellation in the Senate.

Meanwhile, its counterpart in the Lower House (the House Bill No. 4982, otherwise known as the SOGIE Equality Bill) was already passed on September 20, 2017. This was the first time it went this far in 11 years.

SOGIE Equality Bill passes House of Representatives

HB 4982 – sponsored by Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao, Akbayan Party-List Rep. Tom Villarin, AAMBIS-OWA Party-List Rep. Sharon Garin, Negros Ocicidental Rep. Mercedes Alvarez, An Waray Party-List Rep. Victoria Noel, Pangasinan Rep. Toff de Venecia, Bataan Rep. Henedina Abad, among others – was passed in the House of Representatives after only over a year. In total, the bill got the nod of 197 congresspeople, with none opposing it.

DILLY-DALLYING TACTICS?

The very first ADB was filed in the 11th Congress by Akbayan partylist Representative Etta Rosales. That version of the bill was approved on third and final reading in the 12th Congress, but failed to gain traction in the Senate. It was again only in 2006, during the 13th Congress, when the ADB reached second reading.

Sans progress in the Senate, SB 1271 now seems bound to follow the path taken by Rosales’ bill almost 20 years ago.

In a statement released to Outrage Magazine, Hontiveros said: “We must imagine a future in which hate has no place. The SOGIE Equality Bill has been filed and re-filed in the Philippines Congress for the past 19 years. Now is the time to enact this important piece of legislation.”

Hontiveros added: “I welcome the House of Representatives’ final nod to its version of the bill and likewise urge my colleagues in the Senate for us to catch up. It is our commitment to human rights, equality and fairness to all.”

WRONG NOTIONS OF ANTI-DISCRIMINATION

Too many people ERRONEOUSLY associate the ADB with legislating marriage equality in the Philippines. In fact, the ADB only eyes to prevent discrimination from happening to ALL PEOPLE irrespective of their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression – here, including heterosexual people, who also have SOGIE and should also not experience discrimination because of their being straight.

In the case of HB 4982, cited as discriminatory are:

  • Denial of access to public services
  • Including SOGIE as a criteria for hiring or dismissal of workers
  • Refusing admission or expelling students in schools based on SOGIE
  • Imposing disciplinary actions that are harsher than customary due to the student’s SOGIE
  • Refusing or revoking accreditation of organizations based on the SOGIE of members
  • Denying access to health services
  • Denying the application for professional licenses and similar documents
  • Denying access to establishments, facilities, and services open to the general public
  • Forcing a person to undertake any medical or psychological examination to determine or alter one’s SOGIE
  • Harassment committed by persons involved in law enforcement
  • Publishing information intended to “out” or reveal the SOGIE of a person without consent
  • Engaging in public speech which intends to shame or ridicule LGBTQ+ persons
  • Subjecting persons to harassment motivated by the offenders bias against the offended party’s
  • SOGIE, which may come in the form of any medium, including telecommunications and social media
  • Subjecting any person to gender profiling
  • Preventing a child under parental authority from expressing one’s SOGIE by inflicting or threatening to inflict bodily or physical harm or by causing mental or emotional suffering
READ:  WHO cites critical need for research & development of new antibiotics to tackle drug-resistant TB

Any person who commits any discriminatory practice enumerated in the bill may be penalized by a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P500,000; or jailed for no less than one year but not more than six years or both, at the discretion of the court. The court may also impose upon a person found to have committed any of the prohibited acts the rendition of community service in terms of attendance in human rights education and familiarization with and exposure to the plight of the victims.

REALISTIC TAKE?

But pessimism is already invading the ranks.

According to Bubsie Faustino L Sabarez III, national chairman of LGBT Pilipinas, “expected ko na po na malabong makapasa sa Senate ang ADB (I already expected for the ADB not to pass in the Senate),” he said.

For Sabarez, a big part of this is Hontiveros herself, the sponsor of the bill, who is among the main detractors of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte since she belongs to the opposition party. The ADB – in this sense – is now something that is “from (the realm of the) political to politicized”, thereby unfortunately seemingly leaving LGBTQI Filipinos as just political fodder.

For Aaron Bonette of Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy (Bahaghari Center), politicians are largely to blame because “pinapairal nila ang personal beliefs and interests nila instead na isulong ang interes at karapatan ng mga taumbayan – ang LGBTQI community, in this case (They prioritize advancing their personal beliefs and interests instead of advancing the interests and rights of the people – the LGBTQI community in this particular case).”

For Bonette, this is sad because “this is a manifestation that legislation is often only made to benefit those who make them.”

FULL OF EXASPERATION?

Naomi Fontanos, who heads Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, said that, “politically, we have the numbers as there are more supportive senators than those opposing it.” And so for her, “it seems to me that the delay is hypocritical (particularly) if you look at the senators who are causing the delay. Sen. Vicente Sotto III is from the showbiz industry peopled by lots of LGBTIQ folks. Sen. Manny Pacquiao keeps saying he has LGBTIQ people in staff. And Sen. Joel Villanueva even released a message for Pride month. So why then are they delaying passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill in the Senate, which, when passed into law, will provide badly needed protection to LGBTIQ Filipinos from discrimination?”

READ:  HERsHE brand re-launched, collaborates with designer Kaye Morales

Fontanos added that “in the case of Sen. Villanueva, it is much worse since he is listed as a co-author of the bill.”

From Mindanao, Ash Gevera of the United Lesbians of Davao said that “in all honesty, this is very frustrating.” For Gevera, “I honestly think it is not fair that the Senate could allocate time entertaining (Sen. Antonio) Trillanes’ triviality and not give time to actually pass this bill which is far way more important that Trillanes’ PowerPoint presentations. I also do not also appreciate how Sen. Manny Pacquiao is able to preach about having only two kinds of people in the Philippines who should have rights (i.e. babae at lalaki).”

The dilly-dallying, said Gevera, is unnecessary. “They should already just pass the ADB,” she said. “We LGBTQI people (exist). That’s a fact. We should be dealt with rightfully. We also deserve to have our rights.”

“The passing of the SOGIE Bill is not a discriminatory bill to non-LGBT believers, but rather, it is a move towards advancing and strengthening the protection of the underprivileged and most commonly abused members of the society elsewhere. It is significantly similar as the bills we pass in connection to protecting the rights of the Lumads, and even those who do not have any religion,” said Alvin Toni Gee Fernandez of Mujer-LGBT Organization in Zamboanga City. “It is highly imperative that we take into consideration the existence of human rights violations and abuses towards the member of the LGBTQI+ community, which leads to one basic connotation; the existing human rights law is not enough to protect those belonging to the community herein mentioned – different from the argument raised by the protesters. To add further, Section 11, Article 2 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution on State Policies provide that The State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights.”

Fernandez added that “laws and religion, especially in our country, must relatively and separately stand as it is enshrined in our constitution that the state shall have no religion, and as such, must not be dictated by any religious organization.”

PROACTIVE STANCE

Fontanos believes LGBTQI Filipinos need to be more proactive in pushing for the passage of the ADB.

For instance for her, “it is time for the LGBTIQ people who work with these senators to wake up and challenge and call out Sen. Sotto, Sen. Pacquiao and Sen. Villanueva on their hypocrisy,” she said, adding that “I would especially like to appeal to people in the showbiz industry. One of you is preventing the LGBTIQ community from achieving equality and perpetuating the injustices we face in our daily lives by blocking the SOGIE Equality Bill in the Senate. Are you/they aware of this?”

READ:  Phl’s HIV and AIDS policy about to be strengthened

Fontanos added that “Sen. Sotto is okay to host Super Sireyna but will look the other way when those transwomen are denied work, education and basic dignity.”

Fontanos said that, theoretically, “the LGBTIQ community should be boycotting Super Sireyna in protest. But of course, that won’t happen because many LGBTIQ folk are all too willing to cooperate in their oppression, which is unfortunate.”

Also from Mindanao, Jim Casamayor Ofonda of Diosa ng Kutabato said that “should the ADB not progress in the Senate, we’d be back to square one (in the next Congress).” And here, “we can blame these senators who claim to be for us ONLY when it serves their purpose; and then attack us when they no longer need us.”

But Ofonda said that “we also shoulder a large part of the blame – for trusting ‘allies’ who are really only there just to promote their personal interests; for putting people in positions of power, only for them to attack us when we’re no longer useful to them; for not calling these people out for putting their self-interests ahead of what’s right.”

Exactly because he is already disheartened by the non-action on the ADB in the Senate, Sabarez said that – in the case of LGBT Pilipinas – the approach is now not to focus on the national level. Instead, “it is to go to local government units (LGUs) to persuade them to adopt anti-discrimination ordinances (ADOs).” Thus far, they have been finding success in promoting the human rights of LGBTQI people in such localities as the City of San Juan. “Ang atake natin ay sa ibaba habang wala pang malinaw na batas sa national level (We’re starting at the grassroots while there’s no law yet on the national level),” he said.

In a statement provided to Outrage Magazine, DAKILA stated that “we urge everyone to continue pushing for equality in the society by upholding our basic human rights. We demand that the SOGIE Equality Bill (Anti-Discrimination Bill) be passed at the senate level. We demand that the ADB be signed as law. We demand the equal protection of everyone’s rights, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.”

Bahaghari Center’s Bonette said that “we can only overcome the challenge (of ensuring that ADB is passed) through collective action. Pressure the legislators; don’t vote for those who hate us; stop supporting the haters; and hold those who deny us our rights accountable.”

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Facebook

Most Popular