To continue empowering particularly grassroots LGBT activists in the Philippines in their dealings with LGBT people, Rainbow Rights (R-Rights) Project Inc. helmed a paralegal training that “aimed to empower those who reach the most vulnerable,” according to Angie Umbac, president of R-Rights.
Supported by the Fund for Global Human Rights, the training had sessions on: SOGIE 101 by Babaylanes’ Megan Evangelista; feminism by GANDA Filipinas’ Naomi Fontanos; LGBT in the media and queering the media by Outrage Magazine’s Michael David C. Tan; closer look at labor and criminal law (particularly pertaining LGBT human rights) by R-Rights’ Atty. Jazz Tamayo; same sex marriage and civil law issues by Atty. Jess Falcis; and remedies in international law by Women’s Legal and Human Rights Bureau’s Chang Jordan.
“We have to tap brave and dedicated activists working at the grassroots level, and capacitate them so they can provide legal first aid for vulnerable LGBT people who are victims of violence and discrimination,” said Umbac.
Participants came from all over the Philippines, including from community-based LGBT organizations in Cagayan de Oro City, Iloilo, Dumaguete, Cebu City, and Metro Manila. And while many of the activists may have been serving their respective communities for a long time already, the sessions allowed for them “to see where they are not actually effective, and therefore better themselves.”
For Umbac, “reaching out to those at the community level is important, and reaching out to those who work there is a good first step.”
Established in 2005, R-Rights provides legal and policy think tank for the LGBT community in the Philippines. It recently released a handbook on anti-discrimination ordinances on sexual orientation and gender identity rights; and held dialogues with the Department of Labor and its attached bureaus and agencies, and public sector labor unions. In 2014, R-Rights won the Felipa de Souza Award, along with Gay Japan News, KRYSS Malaysia, O Pakistan, and Women’s Support Group Sri Lanka, for its participation in the groundbreaking report, “VIOLENCE: Through the Lens of Lesbians, Bisexual Women and Transgender People in Asia”.