Rainbow Rights Project Inc. (R-Rights) has initiated the Negros LGBT Forum 2013, the first such gathering of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the province of Negros in southern Visayas. Themed “Negrense LGBTs: Educated. Motivated. Mobilized. Empowered”, the effort was helped pushed by Ladlad Negros and BANGIS (the biggest network of Negros Occidental LGBTs), with LGBT representatives – coordinated by Pol Cabalfin with Michael Victor – coming from the different parts of Negros province, including Bacolod, Victorias and Bago City from Negros Occidental, as well as Dumaguete from Negros Oriental.
According to Germaine Trittle PeBenito Leonin, founding president and policy and advocacy coordinator of R-Rights, these paralegal trainings (under her as a project officer) were eyed by the group for areas that may be said to continue to be neglected. The Negros forum was also in response to specific requests from Negros LGBTs (both from Oriental and Occidental) for such to be held in the province.
“With the increasing incidence of hate crimes/gay killings, it was about time they have a training such as this,” Leonin said. “R-Rights wanted to help capacitate Negros LGBTs kasi hindi pa lahat formally organized (at) hindi pa rin sila ganoon ka-unified as a coalition/network; tapos when they tried to get local anti-discrimination ordinances filed, nahihirapan sila kasi hindi pa sila ganoon ka-articulate in pushing for their rights.”
Leonin believes that the “continuing clamor for capability-building such as this” empower not only the LGBTs themselves, but also make “the straight community, particularly government agencies realize the value of such activities.”
“Pinoy LGBTs must be aware of their human rights, they must empower themselves to push for the promotion and protection of their rights. But they need to educate themselves first before they can engage others to address their issues,” Leonin said. “The LGBT Community must realize nobody could do this for them, it must come from the LGBTs themselves.”
Included in the Negros LGBT Forum 2013 were: basic introduction to LGBT concepts and terminologies, a history of Philippine LGBT advocacy movement, human rights and LGBT rights with international development, and the Yogyakarta Principles. Similarly discussed were issues affecting LGBTs such as the Pink Card (tackling grave scandal, vagrancy and prostitution, anti-trafficking, indecent shows), Blue Card (on laws relating to intimate relationships, particularly violence against women and children, sexual harassment, rape), and the Lilac Card (on employment rights, hate crimes/gay killings, and how to push for local anti-discrimination ordinances).