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Resort in Samal involved in LGBTQIA discrimination claim; bans trans people to ‘avoid issues of discrimination’

A transgender woman, Shannon Remotigue Gonzaga, alleged she experienced discrimination during a May 8 visit to Isla Reta Beach Resort in Samal. In response, the resort stated it is no longer accommodating trans people to “avoid issues of discrimination”.

Screen capture of Isla Reta Beach Resort's Facebook page

Highlighting discrimination.

A transgender woman, Shannon Remotigue Gonzaga, alleged she experienced discrimination during a May 8 visit to Isla Reta Beach Resort in Talicud in the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao del Norte.

In a Facebook post, Gonzaga alleged in her vernacular that she was about to shower before getting dressed to already leave, when she was told by an attendant that she could not use the toilet for those assigned female at birth because “gay ka (you’re gay).” She was allegedly then told that only trans women who underwent gender affirmation surgery may use the toilet for those assigned female at birth; though they were vague on whether or not they check the genitalia of all their guests.

After getting changed in their tent (not the restrooms), Gonzaga allegedly went to the “upper management”, who sided with the attendant, echoing the statement that “bawal talaga… kay gay ka (for you to share the bathroom for women is not allowed because you’re gay).”

Outrage Magazine has already reached out to Gonzaga but has yet to hear from her as of press time.

On May 12, the company posted on its Facebook page that it is barring transgender people from entering Isla Reto Beach Resort. It stated: “We inform to the public we cannot accommodate transgender because we have no facility for them to avoid issues of discrimination (sic).”

Still on May 12, the company stressed in a statement posted in Facebook that it is “not homophobic or transphobic and that all the members of the LGBTQ+ (sic) are welcome but please respect the management’s policy on using the shower rooms and CR as we have to consider and protect other guests, particularly the women’s rights and privacy (sic).”

It also clarified its earlier statement that it is banning trans people, stating that “women guests have been complaining to the management that they do not feel safe and/or are uncomfortable with transgender (sic) and even vulnerable using the shower room with them.”

Interestingly, “in order to avoid being labeled as discriminatory or discriminating against the transgenders (sic) as we have no facility for them or that we cannot allow them to use the female shower room, we issued the statement that we cannot accommodate them as of the moment…”

When the news broke about the allegation of Gonzaga, Mario Reta – owner of the resort – was interviewed by 91.5 Brigada News FM-Davao. Reta stated that because of the allegation made by Gonzaga, they plan to file a libel case against her.

Numerous LGBTQIA organizations surfaced to denounce the reported anti-LGBTQIA moves by Isla Reta Beach Resort.

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In a statement, Mindanao Pride; Kagay-an Preserving Life, Uniting Society, Inc.; Mujer-LGBT Zamboanga, Inc.; Olympus Society of Davao, Inc.; and TAHUD PH said that they condemn the resort’s discriminatory policy against the transgender community.

“(R)insing or washing is a normal act of hygiene. In the context of COVID-19, washing is a vital preventive measure in the fight against the pandemic which everyone should be able to do regardless of gender and sexuality,” they said, calling for the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill “to prevent various economic and public accommodation-related acts of discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression”; as well as calling the attention of the Department of Tourism to strengthen its gender and development (GAD) programs and mechanisms to respond to these gender issues in the tourism sector.

The Commission on Human Rights Region IX – where Davao Province is located – was also reported already alerted about this issue.

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