The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) called for the speedy passing of bills that could help better the plight of LGBTQIA people in the Philippines.
This as a report was released to detail the current situation of gender rights in the Philippines, specifically for trans legal recognition. Entitled the “Legal Gender Recognition on the Philippines: A Legal and Policy Review”, the report also gives a full list of recommendations on how further to push for recognition of transgender rights, including the passage of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill.
“Even in a country that scores high in the gender equality index, lack of legal recognition of transgender persons in the Philippines heightens their vulnerability to gender-based violence and other forms of discrimination,” said commissioner Karen S. Gomez-Dumpit of CHR.
In the current legal framework of the Philippines, Magna Carta of Women recognizes SOGIE as an important sector of society that deserves the protection from all forms of violence and discrimination. Also, in the local level, ordinances that protect LGBTQIA people, including discrimination on the basis of SOGIE, have been passed in three provinces, 12 cities, one municipality and three barangays.
Even if there are “clear triumphs” on LGBTQIA rights, it is also recognized that more concrete laws and policies with specific implementing rules and regulations need to be put in place.
SOGIE Equality Bill, for instance, already passed the House of Representatives, though it is still currently being deliberated in the Senate; just as the Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill (CADB) is still currently in deliberation in both Houses of Congress. Considered as important pieces of legislations, these bills seek to define, prohibit and penalize situations and practices of discrimination on the basis of SOGIE, as well as promote and protect the rights of LGBTI.
“These are two remarkable achievements that, if passed and properly implemented, will make a difference in the lives of LGBTIA in the Philippines. This in line with meeting the needs of vulnerable and marginalized groups that is vital to leaving no one behind in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Emmanuel Buendia, UNDP team leader for democratic governance.
Going beyond recommendation for legal reform, the paper also advocates for allocating resources for gender research, awareness activities, and gender sensitivity training, especially for civil servants handling transgender concerns.
“Legal Gender Recognition on the Philippines: A Legal and Policy Review” study is part of a larger regional initiative, jointly implemented by UNDP and the Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN), which undertook a comprehensive review of existing laws, policies and practices related to legal gender recognition for transgender people in Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand.