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GALANG Philippines to Duterte: Exercise strong political will to promote and protect LGBT human rights

GALANG Philippines hopes that this administration exercises its strong political will to promote and protect the basic human rights of the LGBT sector by ensuring the passage of a SOGIE-based anti-discrimination bill in the 17th Philippine Congress because “ultimately, when the disadvantaged sectors are pushed at the margins of the margins, this sector can only count on a national law to protect them from various forms of discrimination.”

GALANG Philippines as a feminist human rights organization has high regard for the freedom of Filipino people as electorates. During the May 9, 2016 national elections, over 15 million Filipinos chose Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to be the next Head of State and Government, and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte now serves as chief executive who exercises control over all executive departments, bureaus, and offices of the country. GALANG is hopeful that given such power and control, President Duterte would be able to implement patriotic and pro-people policies and programs that respond to the specific needs of the oppressed and marginalized sectors.

We commend his relentless drive to address criminality, and we are expecting the same kind of unwavering commitment when upholding the basic human rights of the Filipinos. If violation of such rights were made, we likewise expect the same iron hands to make the violators accountable.

GALANG works with lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men (LBT) living in the urban poor areas. With its evidence-based approach and strategies, GALANG has witnessed how this specific sector has been systematically excluded from the programs and services of the government that favors heterosexual beneficiaries. Such scenario aggravates the kinds of deprivations and discrimination being experienced by the LGBT sector in terms of education, subsidized housing and food, health care, and employment opportunities.

Given such realities and researches published by GALANG in 2013[1] and 2015[2], we are appealing that the new administration would:

  1. Fulfill the mandate of the National Health Insurance Act of 1995 creating the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) by prioritizing the needs of the underprivileged, sick, elderly and disabled, and women and children (Art. I, Sec. 2). This law was considered as one of the best pieces of legislation in the 9th Congress, but ironically, its Implementing Rules and Regulations require a dependent spouse to submit a marriage contract/certificate when declaring dependants (Sec. 10). Therefore, same-sex life partner can not be protected as a ‘dependent spouse’ under this Law because only opposite-sex couples can get married under the Family Code. Thus, making this a heteronormative policy that systematically excludes minority groups, such as LBTs, from government health insurance, which subjects vulnerable sector to further marginalization. Also, the universal health care principle of this law lacks perspective on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), which can very well address further SRHR issues affecting the Filipino LGBT-at-large.
  2. Duly implement the Urban Development and Housing Act (UDHA) of 1992, which was the first Philippine policy to formally recognize that members of the urban poor sector have the right to decent housing and to protection against arbitrary and inhumane eviction. However, as experienced by GALANG staff and based on insights during focus group discussions, lesbian-headed households have been systematically de-prioritized in resettlement of evicted informal settlers in Quezon City. The same issue which brings us back to the concept of heteronormative lens in implementing government programs that consequently excludes non-traditional households or families.
  3. Ensure that other equally important social protection policies include or be responsive to LGBT sector, such as: Solo Parents’ Welfare Act or Republic Act No. 8972; Social Security Act of 1997 or Republic Act No. 8282; Philippine Government Service Insurance System Act of 1997 or Republic Act No. 8291; Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 or Republic Act No. 9994 and Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009 or Republic Act No. 9679.
  4. Exercise its strong political will to promote and protect the basic human rights of the LGBT sector by ensuring the passage of a SOGIE-based anti-discrimination bill in the 17th Philippine Congress. Ultimately, when the disadvantaged sectors are pushed at the margins of the margins, this sector can only count on a national law to protect them from various forms of discrimination.

[1] GALANG, “Social Protection Policies and Urban Poor LBTs in the Philippines”, http://www.galangphilippines.org/social-protection-policies-and-urban-poor-lbts-in-the-philippines-investigating-gender-and-sexuality-norms-in-social-legislation-and-family-law/

[2] GALANG, “How Filipino LBTs Cope with Economic Disadvantage”, http://www.galangphilippines.org/how-filipino-lbts-cope-with-economic-disadvantage/

ALL PHOTOS FROM METRO MANILA PRIDE MARCH 2016, TAKEN BY JOHN RYAN NUAL MENDOZA
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