While expressing “boundless joy that the Cebu Provincial Board is now considering the passage of a provincial ordinance that will address the largely ignored issue of discrimination towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community” in the workplace, Bisdak Pride highlighted the “urgency of tackling this issue” as it is “high time that a major provincial local government unit come up with a local law that helps protect and advance the LGBT community from discrimination, stigma and oppression.”
Bisdak Pride is a human rights group for persons with different sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGI) in the Bisaya speaking populace.
Pending for almost two years now, Bisdak Pride is expecting the proposed ordinance to be passed by the Cebu Provincial Board the soonest possible time. “Now, we want Cebu, as the Philippines premiere province, to be the first province to ensure an-all round protection of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression,” the group said in a statement.
Numerous LGBT-friendly initiatives have been taking place in the country more recently. For instance, senatoriable Teddy Casiño of Bayan Muna and Makabayan filed House Bill 1483 (or An Act Defining Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Providing Penalties Thereof) in Congress on July 15, 2010. Meanwhile, various cities around the Philippines, particularly Cebu City, Davao City and Angeles City, successfully passed anti-discrimination ordinances that penalize any form of discrimination against persons with disability (PWDs), different sexual preferences, ethnicity and religion.
Bisdak Pride cited, among others, the 1987 Constitution, which declares that “the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights” (Article 2, Section 11, 1987 Constitution); the equal protection clause in the Bill of Rights, that “logically requires that laws are implemented and applied equally and uniformly on all persons, be treated in the same manner with regard to privileges conferred and the liabilities imposed”; and the participation of the Philippines in international agreements on the respect for human rights of all persons regardless of any condition, including sex or sexual orientation.
“These international instruments have consistently been interpreted by international institutions, such as the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to include protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” the group stressed.
Unfortunately, “the present and future realities that exist in the country should not be left behind by both national and local laws. The noble intentions of numerous national laws and international agreements are still wanting with respect to our LGBTs. They continue to be discriminated by society at large, primarily because of misconceptions and systemic state ignorance. LGBTs often find it difficult to exercise their rights as persons, workers, professionals, and ordinary citizens.”
Particularly, “state and private companies block the promotion and prevent the career advancement of gay or lesbian employees due to the deeply embedded notion that homosexuality denotes weakness… LGBTs do not want nor claim additional ‘special’ or ‘additional rights’ in law. They only deserve to have equal observance of the rights, privileges and liabilities as those of our heterosexual compatriots.”
Bisdak Pride stated that should the Cebu Provincial Board pass its ordinance to protect the rights of LGBT workers and employees in the province, it would be a landmark ordinance as it will be a first in the country. As such, “we fully support the passage of this provincial ordinance for the rights of LGBTs in the workplace.”