Even as it welcomed the Olongapo Regional Trial Court’s conviction of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton for the death of Jennifer Laude, Akbayan warned that the downgrading of the crime from murder to homicide is still implicitly biased against the victim.
According to Akbayan LGBT Collective representative Jet Evangelista, “our courts should be given training on sensitivity to sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The court ruling kept referring to Laude as “he”, and dismissed the aggravating circumstance of superior strength, which helped lead to a homicide instead of murder.
“The court essentially recognized the mitigating circumstance that upon the discovery that Laude was not a woman, Pemberton was justified in lashing out,” said Evangelista. “This reverts the blame back to Jennifer, which we find unacceptable.”
“The least that we can do now is to assert our sovereignty,” said Akbayan president Machris Cabreros. “A jail term in Philippine custody is a minor win that should be safeguarded.”
Cabreros added: ”The fight is not over as there is still lack of clarity with regard to custody because of the VFA. Any attempt by the US government to assume custody should be met with resistance.”
For Evangelista, “ultimately, this is an opportune time to uphold the rights of a widely misunderstood and discriminated community, and unmask transphobia masquerading as self-defense.”
Already, the LGBT Collective with other groups “will continue to monitor and assert Philippine rights to ensure Pemberton serves his jail time.”
“In the long term, we should take this unfortunate incident as a point of reflection to push our understanding of our transgender brothers and sisters and ultimately become a more accepting society. It would be the best form of justice for Jennifer,” Cabreros ended.