The Philippines ranked 41st among the countries surveyed by online gay community PlanetRomeo.com in the first Gay Happiness Index. A total of 4,947 self-identified gay or bisexual Filipino men participated in the survey, with half of them (50%) claiming to be happy with their situation at the moment even if less than half of the same respondents (45%) claimed that the situation for LGBT people in the country remained the same as the previous year; and also less than half of the respondents (48%) claimed that the situation has changed for them within the last year.
The Philippines is but one of the countries where members of PlanetRomeo.com participated in a survey to ascertain their level/s of happiness.
The survey was dominated by Nordic countries (like Iceland, Norway and Denmark – SEE TABLE 1), with – as expected – African and Middle Eastern countries lagging behind (SEE TABLE 2); although even in more developed countries (such as in the US), discriminatory acts were still reported. In Asia, Thailand ranked the highest at 16th.
GIVING A FACE
According to PlanetRomeo.com, there are seven billion people on the planet, and even “assuming that 5% of them are LGBTs, then there are about 350 million LGBT (people) in the world – a lot of people. That’s more than the entire population of the US.” However, even if a lot of news is written about LGBT people, “nobody knows what’s really going on (since) most of the available data refers to us in an abstract legal way and not on the level of the happiness of individuals. Worldwide comparable data about how life is, from the point of view of the gay citizen, is nowhere to be found.”
This served as an impetus for the Gay Happiness Index 2015, with more than 115,000 gay men from all over the world participating in a survey done in collaboration with the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz (JGUM), Germany.
Fifty-two percent of the respondents were in the 26-45 age range; 22% were in the 18-25 age range; and 26% were over 46 years old. Fifty-one percent accept their being gay (SEE TABLE 3). Eighty percent self-identified as gay; 18% as bisexual; and 2% as other. Over 80% are out at least to friends (SEE TABLE 4).
Serving the survey well is the finding that a high percentage use chat and dating sites online, reaching 64% in all countries.
Discrimination continues to be common, experienced in families, at work/at school, and when accessing healthcare providers (SEE TABLES 5, 6 AND 7). Verbal insults commonly occur, with 62% of the respondents in all countries reporting this. Experience with physical violence was reported by 80% of the respondents in all countries (SEE TABLE 8).
“Modern medicine and psychiatry already agreed that homosexuality is not a disease decades ago. However, it still seems that the freedom to be gay is not just a question of education and time,” PlanetRomeo.com stated. “We are quite sure it has to do with politics.”
For the people behind the survey, “political and religious leaders from all over the world (still) claim to defend ‘traditional’ family values. They accuse us of being deviant, immoral and having a negative effect on society. As an example, religious ‘leaders’ from Liberia and the US blame us of causing Ebola and earthquakes. They put the blame on the ‘decadent West’ for importing queer values into their culture in order to undermine and destroy their countries.”
Not surprisingly, the respondents claimed that in the last year, changes have been slow.
Among all countries, 50% claimed that changes have happened in governmental decisions and laws; 42% among societal responses to LGBT people; and 57% at work/school/university.
Various recommendations (SEE TABLE 9) were forwarded to improve the situation in the countries included in the survey. Helming the recommendations was the need to support local LGBTI organizations (55%). Not as popular, though still mentioned, were the need to put pressure on the government (46%), keep international pressure (48%), and offering asylum based on sexual orientation (36%).
Many continue to “deny us fundamental human rights, force millions of us in the ‘unhappy closet’, beat us, throw us in prison and murder us,” PlanetRomeo.com stated, adding that “those who propagate hatred towards minorities attack all human values. Their actions are not a sign of their own superior morality, but rather the desperate behavior of an autocrat, hungry for popularity (SEE TABLE 10).”