The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Ladlad, a political LGBT party, has launched a partnership with the Philippines National Police (PNP) Human Rights Affairs Office in a move said to convene a national Gender and Sexuality training program to sensitize police officers when engaging with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Ging Cristobal of IGLHRC, Raymond Alikpala of Ladlad and Oscar Atadero, a veteran LGBT activist and a former secretary-general of Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay), planned the engagement in collaboration with Police Chief Superintendent Nestor Fajura, chief of the Philippines National Police Human Rights Affairs Office.
The engagement was designed to address police extortion and the misuse of grave scandal laws against LGBT communities. The goal is that as a result of the interaction with LGBT groups and activists, police will have a better understanding of LGBT issues and move beyond prejudicial treatment of LGBT persons.
Police Chief Supt. Fajura stressed that he is concerned with the consistent complaints of police misconduct his office has heard from LGBT groups. Fajura indicated that he wants to address this concern by engaging directly with LGBT people. The training series will include an LGBT community dialogue with the PNP and six three-day gender and sexuality workshops with human rights regional officers, police precinct officers, and women’s and children’s desk officers in major provinces all over the Philippines in the coming months.
“The aim of this engagement with the LGBT sector is to sensitize the police force to bring about attitudinal change that greatly affects how the police enforce the rule of law and to make the necessary recommendations to incorporate inclusion of LGBT issues and rights in the formal training program of instructions (POI) in the policies and standard procedures of the police force,” said Fajura.
“This is a major breakthrough in working toward achieving equal protection for all. A history of abuse and discrimination against the LGBT community created a distrust of the Philippines National Police, which has made it difficult for LGBT advocates to engage with the police force. We are encouraged to see Police Chief Supt. Fajura’s willingness to engage with the LGBT community to address these human rights violations,” said Cristobal, project coordinator for the Asia program of IGLHRC.
In planning this engagement, Fajura said that “human rights are for humans and LGBT persons are not to be excluded from the protection of the police when we apply the rule of law.” With Fajura’s support, activists are hopeful the PNP will release a policy statement supporting LGBT rights and truly apply indiscriminately the rule of law regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The IGLHRC will conduct the gender and sexuality workshops in partnership with Ladlad and other local LGBT advocacy groups. Fajura has already approved the module to be included in the orientation of new police officers. For sustainability, the training includes a capacity-strengthening element. IGLHRC and Ladlad will train PNP Human Rights Affairs Office staff and LGBT activists to conduct the comprehensive Gender and Sexuality Workshops as well, enabling them to facilitate future sessions on their own. Speakers from local LGBT groups in each of the provinces where the training will be conducted will be invited, resulting in trainings that are customized for each community.