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Film and TV have ‘inclusion crisis’, according to study

“This is no mere diversity problem. This is an inclusion crisis,” said Professor Stacy Smith, founding director of the MDSC Initiative. “Over half of the content we examined features no Asian or Asian-American characters, and over 20% featured no African-American characters. It is clear that the ecosystem of entertainment is exclusionary.”

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A new study demonstrates just how exclusive film and television can be when it comes to women, people of color and the LGBT community.

The Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity (CARD) is the first of its kind — an exhaustive analysis and ranking of film, television and digital streaming services that catalogues speaking characters, people behind the camera, CEOs and executives.

Authored by Professor Stacy L. Smith and released by the Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, the analysis found that only 28.3% of all speaking characters across 414 films, television and digital episodes in 2014-15 were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. This is 9.6% below the US population norm of 37.9%. One-third (33.5%) of speaking characters were female. Behind the camera, a mere 15.2% of all directors and 28.9% of writers across film and every episode of television and digital series were female. Less than one-quarter (22.6%) of series creators were women across broadcast, cable and streaming content.

“This is no mere diversity problem. This is an inclusion crisis,” said Professor Stacy Smith, founding director of the MDSC Initiative. “Over half of the content we examined features no Asian or Asian-American characters, and over 20% featured no African-American characters. It is clear that the ecosystem of entertainment is exclusionary.”

The report examined 109 films released by major studios and their art-house divisions in 2014. Additionally, 305 television and digital series across 31 networks and streaming services were analyzed. Professor Smith and her team evaluated over 11,000 speaking characters for gender, racial and ethnic representation, and LGBT status. Additionally, in excess of 10,000 directors, writers, and show creators, along with more than 1,500 executives at the different media companies studied were evaluated based on gender.

Ten companies responsible for media content were graded based on their on screen and behind the camera representation of women and people of color.

None of the six film distributors examined received a passing grade on the Inclusion Index. Of the 30 tests conducted, 24 or 80% yielded a Not Inclusive ranking. On a standard academic scale where 100% equals a perfect score, no film distributor earned a final inclusion grade above 25% across all tests.

The Inclusion Index for television and digital content revealed places for improvement and a few bright spots. Of the 50 tests conducted, seven Fully Inclusive and nine Largely Inclusive scores were awarded across the 10 companies evaluated on TV/digital content. The Walt Disney Company and The CW Network were the strongest performers in television, while for streaming content, Hulu and Amazon tied.

The report also assessed the executive ranks of the 10 companies. Roughly one-fifth of all chief executives, corporate boards, and executive management teams were comprised of women. Near gender parity was reached in television at the Executive Vice President level. Across film, television, and digital divisions, women were 46.7% of all Senior Vice President-level positions.

“A finding from our other studies regarding women in film is true of executive ranks as well. When power or influence increases, the percentage of females decreases,” said Katherine Pieper, USC Annenberg research scientist and one of the study’s authors.

The authors provide concrete solutions for the big challenges of increasing diversity on screen and behind the camera. “Organizations can take steps to solve inequality,” Marc Choueiti, one of the study authors, stated. “Our hope is that companies begin to implement these solutions and that the numbers will improve.”

The Inclusion Index rates organizations on five indicators regarding their media content and behind-the-scenes hiring practices. Those metrics are the percentage of females and underrepresented racial/ethnic groups on screen and the percentage of women working as directors and writers. Film companies were also scored on their representation of LGBT characters, while television and digital companies were graded on the percentage of female series creators working behind the camera.

Other key findings:

Females are underrepresented on screen across the entertainment ecosystem

  • Female characters fill only 28.7% of all speaking roles in film.
  • For scripted series, less than 40% of all speaking characters were girls and women (broadcast=36.4%, cable=37.3%, streaming=38.1%).
  • Only 18% of stories evaluated were gender balanced, with film (8%) the least likely to depict balance and cable the most likely (23%).
  • A full 42% of series regulars were girls/women. Streaming featured the most females in the principal cast (44.2%), followed by broadcast (41.6%) and cable (41%).
  • 35% of all characters were 40 years of age or older. Men fill 74.3% of these roles and women 25.7%. Film (21.4%) was less likely than broadcast (26.9%) or cable (29.4%) to show women 40 years of age or older. Streaming was the most likely, with females filling 33.1% of roles for middle age and elderly characters.
  • Females were more likely than males to be shown in sexy attire (Females=34.3% vs. Males=7.6%), with some nudity (Females=33.4% vs. Males=10.8%) and physically attractive (Females=11.6% vs. Males=3.5%).

Females face erasure behind the camera, particularly in film

  • A total of 4,284 directors were assessed for gender across all episodes of 305 scripted series and 109 motion pictures. A full 84.8% of directors were male (n=3,632) and 15.2% were female (n=652). This translates into a gender ratio of 5.6 males to every one female behind the camera in popular media.
  • Only 3.4% of all film directors were female (n=4). Among TV and digital series, broadcast had the highest percentage of directors (17.1%) and streaming the lowest (11.8%). 15.1% of directors were female across cable shows.
  • Across 6,421 writers, a full 71.1% were male and 28.9% were female. This means that for every one female screenwriter there were 2.5 male screenwriters.
  • When compared to streaming (25.2%), females were the least likely to have screenwriting credits in film (10.8%) and the most likely in broadcast (31.6%). Females comprised 28.5% of writers on cable shows.
  • A total of 487 creators were credited across the sample of TV/digital offerings. Almost a quarter of these creators were women (22.6%) and 77.4% were men. Of these show creators, 22% were female on the broadcast networks, 22.3% on cable channels, and 25% on streaming series.
  • Stories with a female director attached had 5.4% more girls/women on screen than those stories without female direction (38.5% vs. 33.1%). For writers and creators, the relationship was more pronounced (10.7% and 12.6% increase, respectively).
  • Across the 10 companies evaluated, women represent roughly 20% of corporate boards, chief executives, and executive management teams.
  • As power increases, female presence decreases. In film, television, and streaming executive ranks, 46.7% of Senior Vice President-level executives are female. In television, near gender parity has been reached at the Executive Vice President tier.

Racial/ethnic groups still face invisibility in the entertainment ecology

  • 28.3% of all speaking characters were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups, which is below (-9.6%) the proportion in the U.S. population (37.9%).
  • Only 22 stories depicted proportional representation with U.S. population on the broadcast networks (19%), 18 on cable (13%), 1 on streaming (2%), and 8 in film (7%).
  • At least half or more (52%) of all cinematic, television, or streaming stories fail to portray one speaking or named Asian or Asian American on screen. And, 22% of shows and movies evaluated fail to depict on screen one Black or African American speaking character.
  • Out of the 407 directors evaluated, 87% were White and 13% were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. Only two of the 53 underrepresented directors in film and television/digital series were Black women.
  • Cable shows (16.8% of directors) tended to attach an underrepresented director to their season premiere episodes more than broadcast (9.6% of directors) or streaming (11.4% of directors) shows. Film held an intermediate position across media, with 12.7% of all directors across 109 motion pictures from underrepresented groups.
  • The percentage of on screen underrepresented characters increases 17.5% when an underrepresented director is at the helm of a scripted episode or film. Only 26.2% of characters were underrepresented when directors were White whereas 43.7% were underrepresented when directors were from racial/ethnic minority groups.

Equity in portrayals is not existent for the LGBT community

  • 2% of all speaking characters across the 414 movies, television shows, and digital series evaluated were coded LGB.
  • Only seven transgender characters appeared across 414 stories evaluated.
  • Almost a third of the 229 LGBT characters appeared in cable shows (31.4%, n=72), 28.8% (n=66) in film, 24% (n=55) in broadcast, and 15.7% (n=36) in streaming. Over half of the portrayals (58%) in movies were accounted for by two films.
  • Of all LGBT characters, nearly three quarters (72.1%) were male and 27.9% were female. The vast majority of LGBT characters were White (78.9%) and only 21.1% were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
  • Few LGBT characters were shown as parents or caregivers, with females (24%) slightly more likely to be shown in this light than males (16.4%).

Key differences exist between film and television/digital inclusion profiles

  • Of the 30 tests conducted for film companies, 24 or 80% yielded a Not Inclusive ranking. On a standard academic scale with 100% a perfect score, no film distributor earned a final inclusion grade above 25% across all tests. As such, every film company evaluated earned a Failing score on inclusivity.
  • Of the 50 tests conducted, seven Fully Inclusive and nine Largely Inclusive scores were awarded across the 10 companies evaluated on their TV/digital content.
  • The Walt Disney Company and The CW Network are the top performers when it comes to inclusion in television/digital series. Disney succeeds in representing women and underrepresented characters on screen. Both companies evidence hiring practices behind the camera for writers and show creators that approach balance.
  • Hulu and Amazon performed strongly due to their inclusivity of women. Amazon was the only company rated Fully Inclusive for hiring female directors.

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LGBTQIA people in violent relations should seek help

LGBTQIA people in GBV/IPV/FV ought to know that their situation can be managed; they just need to – first – not fear seeking for help.

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Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels.com

Never be silent.

In Quezon City, a 13-year-old transgender girl was repeatedly abused by her father, leading to the involvement of the barangay, which has a worker trained by OutRight International and EnGendeRights, Inc. on gender-based violence (GBV)/intimate partner violence (IPV)/family violence (FV).

Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, who helms EnGendeRights, Inc., recalled that – when they helped remove the transgender girl from the abusive situation – they initially encountered some roadblocks, such as finding alternative housing.

But then “we (found out) that her lolo at lola (grandfather and grandmother) were willing to take custody”, thereby allowing for her to be “removed from (the) abusive situation,” Padilla recalled.

And so for Padilla, LGBTQIA people in GBV/IPV/FV ought to know that their situation can be managed; they just need to – first – not fear seeking for help.

This was Padilla’s message at OutTalks, a webinar series helmed by Ging Cristobal of OutRight International.

Posted by Ging Cristobal on Thursday, November 26, 2020

DEALING WITH ABUSE

As it is, Padilla said there are actually already existing remedies for LGBTQI persons. Included here is seeking help from – first – the barangay, or if the case needs to be elevated, then the police and/or even prosecutor’s office/court.

At least in her experience dealing with related cases, Padilla said that decision of complainants on whether to file cases or not vary.

At times, victims want to deal with repeat offenders. Others assess the importance of seeking redress (e.g. empowerment, becoming a survivor from being a victim, prosecution of abuser, holding abusers accountable). And at times, people’s decisions are affected by existing support mechanisms (e.g. family members, government agencies).

No matter the decision, though, Padilla said the country already has some laws that could be useful to victims.

Photo by Joanne Adela Low from Pexels.com

LAWS OF USE

RA 7610, for instance, deals with child abuse. Padilla said that even in the absence of social workers, the Department of Social Worker and Development, police and barangay can actually already “take children into protective custody to remove them from abusive situations.”

RA 9262 (Anti-VAWC or violence against women and children) can also be used by lesbian and bisexual women. The law is, however, limited. For one, it does not benefit abused gay and bisexual men; and whether it can be used by transgender women has yet to be tested.

The Revised Penal Code also sanctions physical injury, unjust vexation, slander by deed, acts of lasciviousness, and rape (e.g. incest, conspiracy, intimate partner violence, date rape).

RA 11313 (Safe Spaces Act) mentions harassment in public spaces based on actual or perceived SOGIESC (sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics).

RA 10175 (Cybercrime Law) also eyes to provide safe space online.

And then there are anti-discrimination ordinances (ADOs). This is obviously not encompassing, considering that many local government units still do not have ADOs (and the country still does not have a law protecting the human rights of LGBTQIA people).

PROACTIVE STANCE

In the end, Padilla said, “huwag mahiyang dumulog (do not be embarrassed to ask for help).”

She said that the number of service providers continue to increase, and so “idulog nyo sa amin at hanapan natin ng solution para maka-seek kayo ng justice (inform us about your issue so we can find solutions as you seek justice).”

To contact EnGendeRights, Inc., call (02) 83762578 or (02) 86645696.

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City of Manila passes LGBTQI anti-discrimination ordinance

The City of Manila finally has an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) to protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos. Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso signed City Ordinance 8695, sponsored by councilor Joel Villanueva, which prohibits “any and all forms of discrimination on the basis of SOGIE”.

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The rainbow rises in the City of Manila… finally.

The City of Manila finally has an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) to protect the human rights of LGBTQI Filipinos. Mayor Francisco Moreno Domagoso signed City Ordinance 8695, sponsored by councilor Joel Villanueva, which prohibits “any and all forms of discrimination on the basis of SOGIE”.

“No harm will come to you while I’m mayor of Manila. Lahat kayo pantay pantay sa mata ng pamahalaang lokal,” Domagoso said before signing ADO.

Called Manila LGBTQI Protection Ordinance of 2020, the ADO prohibits:

  1. Denying or limiting access to employees the promotion, transfer, training and schooling if these are otherwise granted to others;
  2. Refusing employment based on actual or perceived SOGIE;
  3. Denying access to medical/health programs and services based on actual or perceived SOGIE;
  4. Denying admission, getting expelled or dismissed, or preventing a student from graduating or getting clearance based on actual or perceived SOGIE;
  5. Revoking accreditation or LGBTQI organizations in schools and workplaces;
  6. Subjecting any person to verbal or written insult including on any social media platforms;
  7. Refusing services based on SOGIE (e.g. accommodations, renting dwelling, malls, etc); and
  8. Organizing groups and activities that promote/incite discrimination of LGBTQI people.

The ADO also mandates the creation of the Gender Sensitivity and Development Council, which will be tasked to synchronize the city’s programs for the LGBTQI community. This council is also tasked to facilitate and assist victims of stigma and discrimination so that they get legal representation and psychological assistance.

With the ADO, every barangay is mandated to establish LGBTQI assistance desks to receive complaints related to the ADO.

By 2023, it is expected that gender-neutral toilets will be established in all venues in the City of Manila. This will be made a condition precedent to the renewal of business permits of establishments.

Violation of the ADO will be penalized with a fine of PhP1,000 and/or imprisonment of six months for the first offense; increasing to a PhP3,000 fine and/or imprisonment up to a year for the third offense.

The ADO will be funded by 5% of the appropriation to finance the city’s Gender and Development programs.

According to Naomi Fontanos of GANDA Filipinas, which helped push for the passage of this ADO: “Based on experience, we know that a law won’t end LGBTQI discrimination and violence but can enable access to justice for people who seek redress. The fight isn’t over.”

And since the ADO has no IRR yet, it also “needs to be monitored for proper implementation.”

Since this also comes on the heels of Zamboanga City passing its own ADO on October 14, Fontanos said that credit should be given to the work of LGBTQI advocates and allies in and outside LGUs tirelessly pushing for structural change.

All the same, “the struggle to pass a national anti-discrimination law also continues and our work to hold those in power to account remains,” Fontanos ended.

*This article was amended on October 30, 11.21AM to include the statements of Naomi Fontanos of GANDA Filipinas

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Enter the alter world

Welcome to the alter world, where people tweet and retweet their or other people’s sexual engagements. Though often maligned, it actually also highlights formation of friendships, info sharing, emotional support, and even provision of a ‘safe space’ for those who wish to express their sexuality.

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Some time back, Kurt (a.k.a. @MoanerBottom) opened a Twitter account as a form of revenge. “I found out that my ex had an ‘alter’ account and he was fooling around with different people,” he recalled. And so “I wanted to prove to him that I can also do the same thing.”

Little did Kurt know at that time that he would become a mainstay in the alter world/community. A few months since opening his own alter account, he garnered over 130,000 followers, all of them craving – and even waiting – for what he would post, usually dominated by sexual encounters (“kalat videos,” he calls them) with mostly students, including a basketball varsitarian “who likes to penetrate deeply”, a Blue Eagle who allowed for his orgasm to be videoed, a Tamaraw who also allowed himself to be videoed as he orgasmed, and bending for a Red Lion.

“I must admit that I am a shy person in real life,” Kurt said. But “here in Twitter, it is like I have less shame and more courage to do kalat (contextually: shameless) posts and videos.”

Kurt is, obviously, only one of the people – not just Filipinos – with alter accounts, which many like him, say is similar to a “pseudonym — like Batman to Bruce Wayne, or Superman to Clark Kent; where people can have a separate account from their primary accounts, usually used to express themselves more ‘wildly’ yet more ‘discreetly’/anonymously.”

And so welcome to the alter world, where people tweet and retweet their or other people’s sexual “collaborations”, hookups, fetishes, fantasies and social engagements, with the audiences often never really knowing the content generators/producers/distributors.

Getting noticed

That the alter world is often dominated by sexual content is a given.

Onin (a.k.a. @Onin_NuezPH), for example, sees his alter account “as an avenue for me to express myself and my sexuality. I am able to let everyone know within the community about my sexual desires without the fear of being judged.”

Looking back, it was actually “a friend who is an alter too introduced me in this alter community,” Onin said.

One of the early instances Onin trended was when some of his nude photos circulated on Twitter. Many got curious, asking the person who previously reacted or shared the photos if there were more.

It whetted Onin’s interest; and so he started posting more photos and short videos. His followers quickly increased, reaching more than 145,000.

Taking pride that he is one of the more talked about alters out there, Onin has produced content that may seem trivial… but these have been keeping the alter community and lurkers interested, from balancing a shampoo bottle on top of his erect penis, sharing a photo of his endowment while asking his followers if they want to kneel in front him, a comparison of the length of a deodorant spray with his penis, wearing a see-through underwear, and teasing his latest sexual collaboration.

Standing out

Standing out in a platform where hundreds (even thousands) of alters saturate news feeds is a challenge. After all, it is not an easy feat to attract someone’s attention — what more to make them like, share, or follow an account.

For FUCKER Daddy (a.k.a. @ako_daddy), therefore, it all comes down to the type of content being posted, not just being well-endowed, willing to perform bareback sex, or how often the face is shown.

A licensed professional who has a son, FUCKER Daddy started as a “lurker’ (i.e. one who lurks, or just consumes content/views profiles) on Twitter. At that time, he wrote “my real-life sex stories, hoping it will pick up from there,” he recalled. “Unfortunately, alter peeps seem to be more into live action.”

And so FUCKER Daddy met someone from Telegram, without realizing that the person was “sort of (a) big (personality) on Twitter.” This guy discretely took a short clip of their sexual encounter, and then posted it on his alter account. “It was hit. (And) the rest is history.”

By August 2019, FUCKER Daddy said his inbox started receiving direct messages from different users – e.g. asking for more, congratulating him, wanting to collaborate, and so on.

He actually now has several sex videos in his cam. But he still doesn’t make recording the primary thing when engaging in sex “as my goal is to have hookups; videos are only secondary.”

Besides, he said that “I do not want to spoil the moment for sex and think only of it as merely for Twitter.”

But every time FUCKER Daddy posts a video, he said his over 95,000 followers respond to them “with enthusiasm, getting more curious and intrigued.”

Making a living

The concept of alter, however, isn’t set in stone.

For one, there are actually alter accounts whose owners prefer to use their real names and show their faces (like Onin), mixing their personal and private lives along the way. Following the Batman/Bruce Wayne and Superman/Clark Kent analogy, there are also people who follow the Tony Stark/Iron Man mantra, i.e. openly announcing that they are one and the same.

Secondly, monetizing is actually possible.

Also, one may be part of the alter community without knowing it – i.e. one engages in alter activities without recognizing it as such.

The likes of John (a.k.a. @johnnephelim on Twitter and Instagram), who has over 130,000 followers, comes to mind, using Twitter as a platform “to promote a job.”

“I do not even know that I am involved in the world of alter,” John said, adding that he did not even know what the term meant until it was presented to him. Instead, his account is used to “promote my RentMen and OnlyFans accounts”, just as he also promotes his availability for “personal appointment to people.”

John actually used to work as a brand ambassador, but because of this change in his work, he “can no longer work (in) that (field) because I am doing porn.”

He admitted that “this type of thing is double-edged.” On the one hand, “you can earn a great amount of money,” he said, “but there will be sacrifices.”

He noted, for instance, that the perception of people about me changed; most people judge you right away because of what you do, and not because of who you are as a person.”

But he ignores the naysayers; “I do not mind because this job gives more than what I expected!”

Like John, Onin also promotes his JustFor.Fans (JFF) account on Twitter to respond to the requests of his followers.

“They (my followers) want to see me in action and they are willing to subscribe too,” Onin said, with his exclusive content including: he and his partner having sex, and collaborations with other alters. “You will not earn that much, but pretty enough to compensate for the contents that we are posting.”

Not all alters think alike, obviously. FUCKER Daddy, for instance, won’t monetize his content, saying: “I value sex as it was created. I never sell any (videos) because I think it is something that is worth free. I simply treated it as making memories while those (who) watch put up the numbers.”

Behind the handles

The world of alter has actually already caught the attention of researchers.

For instance, in a study by Samuel Piamonte of the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development, Mark Quintos of De La Salle University Manila, and Minami Iwayama of Polytechnic University of the Philippines, it was found that the alter community may seem overtly sexual, but there is more to it than that.
“The sexual aspect of alter is the core of alter, but it has been enriched by more complex social benefits to users such as including formation of new friendships, sharing of information and advocacies, reciprocations of emotional support, and provision of a ‘safe space’ for those who wish to express their sexuality but find that doing so outside of the alter community could be met with stigma from their peers and family.”

Kurt sees his alter account as an avenue for him to tap his inner self and show the Twitter universe his kalat. Onin uses his alter account to broadcast his sexual side (together with his partner). And FUCKER Daddy uses his alter account as “a constant source of info, hookups, convo… and to learn social demographics as well.”

The evolution, indeed, continues.

Hate from within the community

Yes, yes, yes… with increasing numbers of followers, multiple likes and shares, and the creation of alter “celebrities”, this has not been spared from criticisms.

And sadly, said Kurt, at least in the Philippine setting, the prejudice against alters comes from within the community. “Kapuwa LGBT ang nagsisiraan at nagpapataasan sa isa’t-isa,” he said. “I know… that I cannot please everyone (but) for me it is okay, as long as I know that I am not doing anything wrong.”

Perhaps a “surprise” is the audience’s inability to “appreciate” the free content given them, with Kurt noting that there are times when “they are also pissed off with the things I post.”

This seems to contradict the findings of Piamonte, Quintos and Iwayama, since – here – the alter community can become a fearful place, too.

John, like Kurt, noted how people resort to demeaning others when they do not fit preconceived notions. But he just laughs this off, saying: “Do not hate me because I look good and make money (from) it. Life is too short to be a bitter person. If you do not like what we do, then shut the fuck up.”

The Pandora’s box, so to speak has been opened; and lessons learned along the way can just “make you stronger and bring out the best in you,” said Onin, who like many alters, “just focus on my goals.” And it is exactly because of the existence of this interchange – the content creation, and the love-hate reaction to what’s created – that alter is not going to disappear anytime soon (or at all).

Details and photos of sexual encounters were lifted from the Twitter accounts of the interviewees.

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Anti-discrimination ordinance passes final reading in Zamboanga City; awaits mayor’s signature

Zamboanga joins the growing number of local government units that now has an anti-discrimination ordinance.

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The rainbow rises in Zamboanga City.

The 1st class highly urbanized city in the Zamboanga Peninsula of the Philippines, Zamboanga, joins the growing number of local government units (LGUs) that now has an anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO).

As helmed by Hon. Lilibeth Macrohon Nuño, the ADO passed the third and final reading at the Sangguniang Panglunsod of the City of Zamboanga on October 6.

The ADO is actually not only specific to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. Instead, it is a more comprehensive ADO that also prohibits discrimination based on race, color, civil and social status, language, religion, national or social origin, culture and ethnicity, property, birth or age, disability and health status, creed and ideological beliefs, and physical appearance.

The ADO now goes to the desk of Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar for signing.

As the sixth most populous and third largest city by land area in the Philippines, Zamboanga has a population of 861,799 people (as of 2015). The ADO was pushed by local LGBTQIA organization, Mujer-LGBT Organization Inc.

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Proposed ‘comprehensive anti-discrimination bill’ called oxymoronic, removes need to protect LGBTQIA Filipinos

A proposed “Comprehensive (sic) Anti-Discrimination Act” is being considered in the House of Representatives (HOR), though the bill eliminates LGBTQIA people among those in need of protection. According to Rep. Geraldine Roman, by eliminating SOGIE in the CADB, it contradicts the very claim that it’s CADB. “By eliminating us, you are discriminating against us.”

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A not-so-comprehensive anti-discrimination bill after all.

A proposed “Comprehensive (sic) Anti-Discrimination Act” is being considered in the House of Representatives (HOR), though the bill eliminates LGBTQIA people among those in need of protection.

In a virtual meeting of the technical working group of the Committee on Human Rights of HOR, Rep. Jesus Suntay presented “An act prohibiting discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, sex, gender, language, disability, HIV status, educational attainment and other forms of discrimination”.

“If you eliminate SOGIE, you can’t call it ‘Comprehensive ADB’. It’s an oxymoron.”

Rep. Geraldine Roman

Another proposed bill, the SOGIE Equality Bill, is getting criticized because it is supposed to be limited to a specific class of people – i.e. LGBTQIA people. And so there is a proposal for it to be included, instead, in the more and supposedly comprehensive anti-discrimination bill (CADB).

According to Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr., himself a pastor cum politician: “We are trying to avoid approving any bill that would be classified as class legislation… This is why it is CADB.”

Abante – nonetheless – believes in the inclusion of sexual orientation in the CADB, just not gender identity and expression.

However, the move to exclude “discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression” from the CADB is a win for anti-LGBTQIA people by eliminating SOGIE Equality Bill and then excluding LGBTQIA people from the CADB.

According to Rep. Geraldine Roman, the first transgender congressperson in the Philippines: “If you eliminate SOGIE, you can’t call it ‘Comprehensive ADB’. It’s an oxymoron.”

The proposed bill also removes SOGIE in Sec. 2: Declaration of Policy, and in the definition of terms.

Defending the erasure of SOGIE in the bill he presented, Suntay said that there are already 15 SOGIE-related bills filed with the Committee on Women. For him, if SOGIE is also included in the CADB, it “may be deemed also as SOGIE Equality Bill.”

But Roman does not agree with this.

That argument, she said, “is totally irrelevant… By eliminating SOGIE (in the CADB), it contradicts the very claim that it’s CADB. By eliminating us, you are discriminating against us.”

Roman added: “We have to be brave enough and recognize that there is discrimination happening against people like me who has a gender identity that is considered as different from what’s considered as conventional.”

Suntay noted that an anti-discrimination bill has been passed since the 13th Congress; and he hopes to eventually “steer this to success”, apparently even with LGBTQIA exclusion.

WRITE TO, OR CONTACT THE OFFICE OF REP. JESUS SUNTAY. INFORM HIM OF THE NEED TO KEEP SOGIE IN THE COMPREHENSIVE ANTI-DISCRIMINATION BILL.
FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/congsuntay/
Email provided in FB: congressmansuntay@gmail.com
Mobile no.: 09190847873

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Those opposing SOGIE Equality Bill claim to be ‘pro-human rights’… but not for LGBTQIA people

Parties opposing the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill frame themselves – and their arguments – as “for equality” and “for human rights for all”, but stress all the same that they do not support granting LGBTQIA people human rights.

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Different parties opposing the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill frame themselves – and their arguments – as “for equality” and “for human rights for all”, but stress all the same that they do not support granting LGBTQIA people human rights because any anti-discrimination law will grant LGBTQIA people “special rights”.

This – along with the imposition of religious beliefs – was repeatedly stressed during the August 28 virtual hearing on the SOGIE Equality Bill of the Committee on Women & Gender Equality of the House of Representatives.

Rep. Benny Abante of Manila’s 6th district, for one, stated that “the LGBTI are human beings like all of us… I might not agree with their lifestyle (sic), but I will defend their rights to express themselves.”

But while he stated that “nobody in this country is a second-class citizen,” he reiterated his “refusal to be included as a co-author (of the SOGIE Equality Bill) does not speak of opposition” to it. Instead, it is to uphold what’s in the bible.

Abante also misgendered Rep. Geraldine Roman of Bataan’s First District, referring to the first transgender woman to win a seat in Congress as “congressman” and using the male pronoun “him”. Roman is a co-chair of the Committee on Women & Gender Equality.

Abante’s position was similar to many others who spoke at the virtual hearing.

Stanley Clyde Flores of Jesus is Lord (JIL) religious group stated: “Hindi kami bulag sa katotohanan na maraming miyembro (ng LGBTQIA community) ang nakakaranas ng diskriminasyon.” But JIL does not support the SOGIE Equality Bill because “it rids others of their rights.”

In fact, JIL believes that “God gave gender”, and the fringe religious group believes that members of the LGBTQIA community who want to “welcome God and change their gender” should do so.

JIL’s anti-LGBTQIA position was established by its founder turned politician, Rep. Eddie Villanueva, his position itself a slight on the concept of the separation of Church and State.

Presbyterian Sec. Gen. Nelson Dangan similarly stated the church’s supposed support for non-discrimination. But Dangan stressed that the anti-discrimination bill “supports approval of homosexual behavior”, assaults the truth of Biblical sexuality, does not focus on procreation as human’s key reason for existence, and is “anti-God because God opposes homosexuality.”

Dangan also refuted the existence of intersex people because the word does not exist in his bible.

“Philippines will be like Sodom and Gomorrah if we pass (this bill),” he said, also insinuating that Covid-19 is a wrath of God and that passing a law for the human rights of LGBTQIA people will further anger this God. “We respect all people created by God… but we oppose this bill… because we violate the will of God and invite the wrath of God.”

GOD’S NAME IN VAIN?

Bishop Leo Alconga, the national president of the Philippines For Jesus Movement, similarly stated that they stand “against any form of discrimination”, but that God does not agree with this, quoting an antiquated Catholic perspective that homosexuality is “an act of great depravity”.

Alconga similarly linked the SOGIE Equality Bill with marriage equality, which is not at all part of the bill.

For Bro. Ramon Orosa of Philippines For Jesus Movement, one of the most notorious sins in the scripture is homosexuality and lesbianism. And for him, “the question is not whether they exist, but not giving in to them.” Using the punitive Old Testament God, he said that “God is not tolerant of any sin.”

Orosa also said that “this is being imposed on everybody else” and that “we will be discriminated upon if we disagree.”

For Iglesia ni Cristo’s Edwil Zabala, everyone is entitled to all human rights. But for him, SOGIE is “not a fundamental right” and does not even exist. Like the others, he said that laws should not be made to favor select/special beneficiaries.

HATE FROM GOV’T BODIES?

But church people were not the only parties opposing the SOGIE Equality Bill.

From the side of the government, for instance, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Usec. RJ Echiverri echoed the right-wing religious perspective. After claiming he, too, is against discrimination and the provision of equal opportunity for everybody, he questioned if the proposed law will give special rights to others.

Echiverri also had issues with trans women joining competitions for those assigned female at birth; as well as the “blurring of identities”.

Meanwhile, an Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) resource person stated that while AFP – as a government institution – does not discriminate, it also “does not support protection of special groups at the expense of others.”

HATE HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR THE LAW

But other parties also expressed their support for the passage of a law that has been pending in Congress for 20 years now.

Philippine National Police (PNP) head of PNP Women and Children Protection Center (WCPC), Colonel Alessandro Abella, for instance said that they support upholding the rights of all people irrespective of SOGIESC. However, the PNP position that Abella read at the hearing, which is contrary to AFP’s, has yet to be officially vetted by his higher ups.

Still, he said, PNP is lobbying to rename WCPC to “Women, Children and Gender Rights Protection” as it’s more generic and will cover all forms of gender-based violence.

PNP’s recruitment process at present is already SOGIESC-sensitive, focusing on “merit and fitness”, he said, so “PNP supports this.”

Other government officials who also expressed support were Esmeralda Amora-Ladra from Commission on Elections; Sandy Montano of the Philippine Commission on Women; Elizabeth Angsioco of the Department of Social Welfare and Development; and Paul Moreno of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.

For Prof. Evelyn “Leo” Batad of UP GLLP, this is a long overdue law that “recognizes the long-standing struggle of people due to their SOGIESC.”

The 1987 Philippine Constitution, in fact, stipulates the value the dignity of all human persons. But the country does not have executory laws for this; and so “a legislation providing for the protection of people with diverse SOGIESC is overdue.”

Batad added that “religion is not meant to support specific beliefs”, and that “morality referred to in law is public and secular, not religious.” The Supreme Court already stated that if the government relies on religious beliefs in the making of laws, then this will require conformity in particular religious programs and the concept of morality of those managing them. This – by itself – becomes an imposition, which violates the very concept of freedom of religious affiliation by making some more dominant than others.

“We cannot impose religious beliefs on others,” Batad said. “Religious belief is distinct from what is spiritual.”

LGBTQIA PEOPLE EXIST

Rep. Roman, for her part, said that “you cannot treat the Bible like a science book.” For instance, the intersex condition is a biological fact; so citing the bible to question the existence of intersex bible is erroneous.

“As St. Agustine said: If you want to convince other people, you cannot ignore empirical data,” she said.

Roman helped push the SOGIE Equality Bill’s passage in 2017, when the bill got the nod of 198 congresspeople, with none opposing it.

“Despite the promise of equality, vulnerable groups are still discriminated,” said Rainbow Rights Project Inc.’s Atty. Jazz Tamayo. “Must we undergo discrimination before we (are able to) access the law? The State needs to (deal with) this.”

For her part, Lagablab Network’s Atty. Claire de Leon said that “discrimination still persists”, with LGBTQIA students refused entry to schools, LGBTQIA people excluded from social support, and the prevalence of workplace discrimination due to people’s SOGIESC, among others. “LGBTQIA people remain vulnerable,” and this ought to push for the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill that has been wallowing “for over 20 years now.”

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