By Koko Alviar
This is how a group of eight young men — seven of whom minors — explained a flying kick to the head of an LGBTIQ+ individual just walking on a street in Zamboanga City early morning on Aug. 15, just after the curfew.
They just felt like it.
The perpetrators were rounded up on Aug. 18. Their victim did not show up to file a formal complaint within a 72-hour window, prompting authorities to release the eight.
Apparently, concerned citizens had previously complained about the boys roaming the streets and creating a commotion during curfew hours. Concerned organizations have also noted several cases across Zamboanga Peninsula where LGBTIQ+ attacks, including one killing, occurred. Some even reportedly involved the police.
What happened down south on Aug. 15 speaks of a deadly culture nationwide — where people, just because trip nila, think it justified to offend LGBTIQ+ individuals and, it bears mentioning, women and all other gender minorities.
Beyond an unprovoked flying kick, it shows up in many places. It shows up in bullying in schools, catcalling on the streets, scoldings at home and so much more. It manifests, too, in the opinion of some people that these young men deserve a pass because ‘boys will be boys’ — yeah, when leniency is not something we would so easily provide to LGBTIQ+ minors and youngsters who express themselves in harmless ways.
That the LGBTIQ+ person who was clearly wronged did not show up to file a complaint is part of the issue. But I don’t blame them. I blame this culture. In our history as a — dare I say — homophobic nation, it has minimized the victimization of LGBTIQ+ people, made them fear showing up and barred them from getting justice.
Kaya natin kailangang ang SOGIE Law. I don’t feel minors should be prosecuted like adult criminals; but homes, schools and communities openly educating youngsters that attacking LGBTIQ+ people on a whim is wrong can prevent many incidents — one of many things this law can foster.
We need to face this demon that demonizes humans who do not fall into the “conventions of goodness” but are human nonetheless. A law helps.