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Bb Pilipinas opens application for 2023 competition; bans people with HIV, transgender women from joining

The Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. has announced that it is now accepting applicants for the 2023 iteration of the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant. But this year, it is openly discriminating against persons living with HIV, as well as transgender women.

Beauty for… promotion of discrimination?

The Binibining Pilipinas Charities Inc. has announced that it is now accepting applicants for the 2023 iteration of the Binibining Pilipinas beauty pageant.

However, this year’s application form, available in the organization’s website, specifically discriminates against persons living with HIV, as well as transgender women. The form has remained unedited as of January 9, 2023, 6:00PM.

On one hand, on page 6, section III of the application form, the applicants are required to certify that:

“I am in good mental, psychological and physical health, and that I have never been sick or have been hospitalized for Cancer, Epilepsy, HIV, AIDS, any heart ailment, a disease involving the gastrointestinal system or any other disease that will impair my mental, psychological and/or physical health or condition…” (3.b)

Incidentally, Republic Act 11166 specifically prohibits discrimination of people living with HIV from being considered in positions. It specifically prohibits “the rejection of job application, termination of employment, or other discriminatory policies in hiring, provision of employment and other related benefit, promotion or assignment of an individual solely or partially on the basis of actual, perceived, or suspected HIV status” (Article Vii, Section 49.a).

Bb Pilipinas is actually fond of promoting itself as a supporter of the fight against HIV, nowadays trained apparently not effectively by NGO LoveYourself.

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Past winners Pia Wurtzbach and Catriona Grey, both winning the Miss Universe crown as talents of Bb Pilipinas, also built reputations as advocates of the fight against HIV.

On the other hand, it similarly requires applicants to certify that:

“I was born with the anatomy of a female and that I have not consented to and/or underwent any surgical, medical and/or cosmetic procedure to transform myself into a biological female” (3.h)

In 2021, the organization was actually involved in a controversy, when it posted a photo of Hannah Arnold, who represented the country in that year’s Miss International competition, and referred to her as a “Naturaaaaaal woman.”

At that time, Pilipinas stated that “the organization has always been about celebrating Filipinas of all backgrounds. We will never consciously do anything to minimize the experience and the truth of anyone.”

This is actually a step back for Bb Pilipinas, with other national and international pageants already allowing transgender women to compete. The Miss Universe competition lifted a ban on transgender contestants in 2012. Meanwhile, South Africa, Panama, Spain, Canada and Nepal, among others, allow transgender contestants to take part in their national beauty pageants.

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