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Sen. Legarda bats for LGBT anti-discrimination; forces snowballing of support for SOGIE Equality Bill in Senate

Members of the LGBT community found allies in the Senate, with Senators Loren Legarda, Migz Zubiri, Ralph Recto and Frank Drilon finally openly expressing their support for the SOGIE Equality Bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

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Forcing hands to openly support non-discrimination of LGBTQIA Filipinos.

Members of the LGBT community found allies in the Senate, with Senators Loren Legarda, Migz Zubiri, Ralph Recto and Frank Drilon finally openly expressing their support for the SOGIE Equality Bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Senate Bill No. 1271 or the Anti-Discrimination Bill was filed last August 1, 2016 and has faced an uphill battle in the upper chamber. Its counterpart in the House of Representatives was already approved in September 2017.

“It would be a great legacy of this chamber if we are able to pass the anti-discrimination measure during our watch,” Legarda said, prompting the other senators to also voice out their support for the bill. Legarda added: “I just want to give my full unequivocal, urgent support to this measure.”

In an Instagram post, Legarda stated the need to “give our #LGBTQIA friends the love that they truly deserve. After two years of exhaustive discussions, we should no longer prolong the debates on the SOGIE Bill. Let’s spread the love. No to discrimination!”

Senate President Pro-Tempore Recto said – for the record – that “I also associate myself with the statements made by Senator Legarda.”

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Majority Floor Leader Zubiri, for his part, pledged attention to the bill. “I commit to the good sponsors, Sen. Risa [Hontiveros] and Sen. Loren [Legarda] that we’ll place this on the calendar, the agenda, every day, so that we can tackle this anytime within the next few weeks”, Zubiri said.

Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon also expressed support for the measure.

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros earlier noted that the said measure has been under the period of interpellation for 602 calendar days, since her sponsorship last December 2016. The Senate session resumes on Monday and leaves three session days for the bill to get passed before the chamber’s adjournment on Wednesday.

Two of the three senators largely seen as delaying the passage of the ADB – Senate President Tito Sotto and Senator Joel Villanueva – are scheduled to interpellate next week.

NEWSMAKERS

Criminalization, repressive policing of sex work linked to increased risk of violence

A systematic review found that sex workers exposed to repressive policing had a three times higher chance of experiencing sexual or physical violence by anyone, and were also twice as likely to have HIV and/or other STIs.

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Image detail by Emiliano Vittoriosi from Unsplash.com

Sex workers who face repressive policing are more likely to experience violence and poorer health and well-being.

This is according to new research helmed by Lucy Platt, Associate Professor in Public Health Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM); and co-authored by Pippa Grenfell, Assistant Professor of Public Health Sociology at LSHTM. It was published in PLOS Medicine.

To gather literature, the team searched databases of peer-reviewed journals from 1990 to 2018, for research on sex work, legislation, policing and health. Only studies reporting data provided by sex workers themselves were included. Data included in the review came from 33 countries.

The researchers specifically reviewed the effects of criminalization and police repression, examples of which included recent arrest, prison, displacement from a work place, confiscation of needles/syringes or condoms, and extortion, sexual or physical violence by police officers.

Using techniques including meta-analysis (pooling results from included quantitative studies), the team were then able to estimate the average effect of being exposed to repressive policing compared to no such exposure. The team also identified the main pathways through which these effects occurred in different legislative contexts (synthesizing results of included qualitative studies).

A systematic review found that sex workers who had been exposed to repressive policing (such as recent arrest, prison, displacement from a work place, extortion or violence by officers) had a three times higher chance of experiencing sexual or physical violence by anyone, for example, a client, a partner, or someone posing as a client. They were also twice as likely to have HIV and/or other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), compared with sex workers who had avoided repressive policing practices.

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Sex workers who had avoided repressive policing were 30% less likely to engage in sex with clients without a condom – a risk factor for HIV and STIs. Although prevalence is highly variable in different contexts, in low and middle income countries, sex workers are on average 13 times more at risk of HIV, compared to women of reproductive age (age 15 to 49), so their ability to negotiate condom use is important.

“Where some or all aspects of sex work were criminalized, concerns about their own or their clients’ arrest meant that sex workers often had to rush screening clients negotiating services, or work in isolated places, to avoid the police. This increased sex workers’ vulnerability to theft and violence,” said Platt, lead author. “At the same time, police frequently failed to act on sex workers’ reports of such crimes, or blamed and arrested sex workers themselves, meaning that offenders could operate with impunity and sex workers were reluctant to report to the police in future. These experiences were reported time and again across a wide range of countries.”

The research also showed that repressive policing not only further marginalised sex workers as a population, but it also reinforced inequalities within sex-working communities, as police often targeted specific groups or work settings.

Grenfell, co-author, said: “It is clear from our review that criminalization of sex work normalizes violence and reinforces gender, racial, economic and other inequalities. It does so by restricting sex workers’ access to justice, and by increasing the vulnerability, stigmatization and marginalization of already-marginalized women and minorities.

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She added that decriminalization of sex work is “urgently needed”, but other areas must also be addressed.

“Wider political action is required to tackle the inequalities, stigma and exclusion that sex workers face, not only within criminal justice systems but also in health, domestic violence, housing, welfare, employment, education and immigration sectors,” Grenfell said.

The researchers conclude that reform of demonstrably harmful policies and laws is urgently needed to protect and improve sex workers’ safety, health and broader rights. 

But while the authors say that while legislative reforms and related institutional shifts are likely to require long-term efforts, immediate interventions are also needed to support sex workers. This includes the sustained and renewed funding and scale-up of specialist and sex-worker-led services that can help to address the multiple and diverse health and social care needs of people who sell sex around the world.

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NEWSMAKERS

Previously incarcerated trans women can be caught in cycle leading to repeat jail time

Seven percent of trans people are incarcerated during their lifetimes, compared with 2.7% of the general population. They also stay longer in prison.

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Photo by Rostyslav Savchyn from Unsplash.com

Cycle of violence.

Previously incarcerated trans women can find themselves caught in a cycle that leads to repeat jail time. This is the analysis drawn from Allegheny County by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researchers who – also, and fortunately – identified potential solutions that could lead to trans women being more successfully reintegrated into society.

Stephanie Creasy, M.P.H., project coordinator in Pitt Public Health’s Department of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, said that trans people may now be more visible, but “visibility does not always mean equal rights or improved health and safety.”

Seven percent of trans people are incarcerated during their lifetimes, compared with 2.7% of the general population. They also stay longer in prison. For instance, in Pennsylvania in the US, 57% of trans people serve their maximum sentences, compared with 19% of the general population. Research has shown that transgender women experience higher rates of adverse childhood events, which have been associated with higher rates of incarceration.

Pink behind bars

“Trans women also experience significant discrimination in workplace and health care settings, which often leads to participation in a survival economy that leaves them more susceptible to arrest and incarceration,” said Creasy.

As part of her master’s thesis work at Pitt Public Health, Creasy performed a mixed-methods analysis that involved in-depth interviews with trans women living in Allegheny County (in the US) who had been previously incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, coupled with geospatial mapping of the county’s trans-inclusive resources, public transportation, probation offices and mental health services.

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Additional authors on this research are Mary E. Hawk, Dr.P.H., Mackey Reuel Friedman, Ph.D., M.P.H., Christina Mair, Ph.D., and James Erin Egan, Ph.D., M.P.H., all of Pitt Public Health, and Jennifer McNaboe, M.P.H., of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

The study participants were Allegheny County residents between 29 and 48 years old. Half were HIV-positive, and two-thirds were people of color. Half had been incarcerated more than once. All had been housed with men while incarcerated and all said they feared for their safety due to their trans identities. Some said they were physically and sexually abused and called “it” or “thing.”

Post-release, all participants said they experienced discrimination during job interviews, and stigma and harassment from employers and coworkers. They commonly said that transportation to work or probation meetings was difficult. They also had difficulty finding conveniently located health care providers for trans-specific needs and HIV care when necessary.

When Allegheny County probation offices, trans-inclusive health care providers and job services were mapped with bus lines and overlaid on a map detailing the areas of the county with higher rates of poverty (where trans people and previously incarcerated people are more likely to live), Creasy found that the resources didn’t align with the areas of need.

Creasy also asked the participants about experiences that they found helpful. Two-thirds of participants said that having social support, such as being with other trans women or gay men, gave them a sense of resilience while incarcerated. Participants who connected to social support via friends, family or community post-incarceration said they felt less likely to be re-incarcerated.

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The researchers, therefore, recommended: 1) connecting trans people who’ve been incarcerated with resources post-release in an effort to lower rates of recidivism; and 2) co-locating trans-inclusive resources – such as career services, health care that includes hormone therapy and HIV clinics – in places close to public transport is one recommendation.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Blued pokes fun on awkward sexting encounters to encourage safer sex & promote HIV awareness

Blued wants to remind its users to get tested for HIV and practice safer sex.

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From unsolicited dick pics to inappropriately direct sexual invitations, together with exposure to extreme kinks and aggressive flirting from total strangers, the online gay world can sometimes feel like the sexual equivalent of rush hour on a Friday night.  

But while hooking up in the digital age can be messy and confusing, one rule should be clear: when your partner refuses to practice safer sex, it’s time to stop and make a U-turn.

In celebration of World AIDS Day this December 1, the world’s largest gay social app Blued–a platform that’s facilitated millions of awkward sexting encounters–wants to remind its users to get tested for HIV and practice safer sex, through a series of videos where a user aggressively sexts multiple people, and hooks up with a guy who’s only willing to have sex, as long as it’s safe.

Currently, Blued has close to one million users in the Philippines, where as many as 32 people test positive for HIV every day, mostly among men having sex with men.

This stems from a lack of education on how HIV is transmitted, as well as the stigma of sex and the continuing discrimination of the LGBT community.

No longer just for gay trysts…

“We at Blued believe in sex-positivity, and that the abstinence-only solution to stopping HIV is not exactly the most realistic solution for a lot of people,” says Evan Tan, country marketing manager of Blued in the Philippines. “By making fun of awkward sexual encounters, we want people to lighten up their attitudes towards sex–but also remember that using condoms, getting tested for HIV regularly, adhering to your PrEP regimen, and establishing to your partners that safer sex is a non-negotiable rule, will allow you to enjoy your sex life even further.”

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NEWSMAKERS

Red Whistle marks 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day with #XXXWAD

The Red Whistle holds #XXXWAD, a series of curated events intended to highlight the need for strengthened partnerships to “kiss AIDS goodbye.”

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Just as the world marks World AIDS Day, the 30th time it does this December 1, 2018 to highlight the continuing devastating effect of HIV, The Red Whistle holds #XXXWAD, a series of curated events intended to highlight the need for strengthened partnerships to “kiss AIDS goodbye.”

The Red Whistle particularly partnered with Project Headshot Clinic, a digital campaign that uses online profile photos to deliver advocacy messages.

In a statement given to Outrage Magazine, Project Headshot Clinic stressed that particularly this year’s photo campaign wants to highlight the need for collaboration. Therefore, in use are bright lights fashioned into three intersecting Xs as foreground and backdrop in the profile photos of the advocates. These three Xs represent “the intersections needed to effectively fight to end AIDS.” The headshots will be launched online on midnight of December 1.

Volunteers and ambassadors will also be part of the official Metro Manila World AIDS Day 2018 commemorative event on Saturday, December 1 to be held at Vista Mall in Taguig City.

The Red Whistle will cap off the day with a fundraising party at Nectar Nightclub at the Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

More events are lined up all throughout the first half of December 2018 in an extended commemoration of this milestone. There will be an XXX Art Installation unveiling/activity on December 1 and 2 with partner NGO CAMP (Culture and Arts Managers of the Philippines) at the Quezon City Hall grounds (for more information on this, coordinate with Ian Felix Alquiros at 0917-545-7556).

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On December 8 and 9, partner Beyond Yoga will host “Move x Heal”, a workshop on movement as therapy, at Beyond’s Rockwell Center studio in Makati City (for more information on this, coordinate with Benedict Bernabe at 0917-826-6169).

The series will close with “Celebrity Bartender Throwdown”, another benefit event in partnership with Drink Manila on December 15, Saturday, 8:00PM at Pineapple Lab in Makati City.

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NEWSMAKERS

‘Sextortion’ labeled as most important and fastest-growing cyberthreat to children

Adolescents who identified as non-heterosexual were more than twice as likely to be the victim of sextortion. This finding is consistent with other forms of online abuse, including cyberbullying and electronic dating violence, which research has shown is more common among those who do not identify as heterosexual.

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Photo by NeONBRAND from Unsplash.com

“Sextortion” has been labeled as the most important and fastest-growing cyberthreat to children, with more minor victims per offender than all other child sexual exploitation offenses, according to  the United States Department of Justice. 

Sextortion is the “threatened dissemination of explicit, intimate or embarrassing images of a sexual nature without consent. Usually, it is for the purpose of getting more images, sexual acts, money or something else.”

Despite increased public interest in sextortion, there have been no studies to empirically examine this behavior among adolescents. This is why researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire conducted a study that explored sextortion prevalence behaviors among 5,568 middle and high school students in the US between the ages of 12 to 17 years.

The study, published in the journal Sexual Abuse, found that 5% of these youth had been the target of sextortion, and 3% admitted that they had done it to others. Males were significantly more likely than females to have participated in sextortion both as a victim and as an offender.

How the Vic Fabe issue highlights that we can be our worst enemies…

The study also found that adolescents who identified as non-heterosexual were more than twice as likely to be the victim of sextortion. This is consistent with other forms of online abuse, including cyberbullying and electronic dating violence, which research has shown is more common among those who do not identify as heterosexual.

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The study did not find any difference by race and age, although 15 year olds were generally more likely to be involved compared with other groups.

The study also found that most sextortion experiences occurred within existing relationships (romantic or otherwise). It was rare that the person targeted by someone was not well known to the target.

Sextortion-related activities varied, and included: being stalked or harassed (9.7% of males and 23.5% of females), being contacted repeatedly online or by phone (42.9% of males and 40.9% of females), and having a fake online profile created about them (11.2% of males and 8.7% of females).

Most notably, 24.8% of males and 26.1% of females who were sextorted said the offender posted the sexual image of them online, while 25.5% of male victims and 29.6% of female victims said the offender sent the sexual image of them to someone else without their permission.

“Threats that were made were ultimately carried out in some way, and some of these instances may indeed be more accurately characterized as ‘revenge porn,’ another behavior involving the unauthorized distribution of explicit images,” said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., co-author, a professor in FAU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within the College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “Revenge porn is less colloquially known as ‘non-consensual pornography.’ However, the primary difference between revenge porn tends to be public while sextortion is usually private, unless threats are ultimately carried out.”

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Not surprisingly, only a few sextortion victims reported the experience to parents or other adult authorities. And among those who reported, more females informed their parents than did males. Also, very few sextortion victims reported it to the site or app where the situation occurred.

The researchers – Hinduja and Justin W. Patchin, Ph.D., who co-authored – advise youth to be cautious when it comes to how much trust they can extend to others. But they also suggested for parents and other adults who work with teens to cultivate them in a healthy dose of skepticism about the sharing of personal (particularly sexual) content to anyone in their circle because – as the research showed – sextortion rarely involves strangers.

“Youth may fall prey to victimization more readily than adults because of the naiveté that stems from a simple lack of experience in the ways of life and love,” Hinduja ended.

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NEWSMAKERS

Avon signs up to UN’s LGBTI Standards of Conduct for Business

The UN Standards were produced in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Business and build on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. They reflect the input of hundreds of companies across diverse sectors. Over 200 companies worldwide have expressed support for the Standard.

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Avon announced its support for the United Nations Standards of Conduct for Business to tackle discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people. Expressing support for the UN Standards on LGBTI is a continuation of Avon’s “commitment to social progress and freedom of expression – principles that underpin its business and brand proposition.”

Avon is proud to have been one of the original signatories to the UN Women’s Economic Principles and this commitment to the LGBTI Standards is a natural extension of Avon’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity.

Avon has a strong track record of standing up for LGBTI rights and has championed LGBTI role models including Brazilian pop star and drag queen Pabllo Vittar, and singer and transsexual activist Candy Mel. A recent campaign in BrazilAvon’s biggest market, included a series of testimonials from Avon ambassadors and beauty entrepreneurs from the LGBTQIA+ community, including artist Rosa Luz, Brazilian model Bia Gremion and Avon sales executive Gaby Varconti. 

In Mexico Avon recently collaborated with the beauty influencer and transgender activist for tolerance, Victoria Volkova, to create Aura. The fragrance has been one of the most successful launches of the year for Avon Mexico.

Jan Zijderveld, CEO of Avon, said: “Avon is an open company, and our underlying principles of respect for rights apply to everyone. Discrimination is not welcome at Avon in any shape or form. We want to be a fully inclusive company for LGBTI employees, associates and representatives, and also for our customers and suppliers. Challenging stereotypes is at the heart of many of our campaigns, and we will work to promote positive representations of LGBTI people across our business. Creativity and innovation are unleashed when everyone can flourish. That is the environment in which Avon as a business was built and will thrive.”

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Zeid Ra‘ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: “If we are to achieve faster global progress towards equality for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people, businesses will not only have to meet their human rights responsibilities, they must become active agents of change.”

The UN Standards were produced in collaboration with the Institute for Human Rights and Business and build on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. They reflect the input of hundreds of companies across diverse sectors. Over 200 companies worldwide have expressed support for the Standard.

By expressing support for these Standards, Avon commits to:

  1. Respect human rights at all times
    Avon will develop policies, exercise due diligence, and remediate adverse impacts to ensure they respect human rights of LGBTI people. Avon will also establish mechanisms to monitor and communicate about their compliance with human rights standards.
  2. Eliminate discrimination in the workplace
    Avon will ensure that there is no discrimination in recruitment, employment, working conditions, benefits, respect for privacy, or treatment of harassment.
  3. Provide support in the workplace
    Avon will provide a positive, affirmative environment so that LGBTI employees can work with dignity and without stigma.
  4. Prevent other human rights violations in the marketplace
    Avon will not discriminate against LGBTI suppliers, distributors or customers, and will leverage our business to prevent discrimination and related abuses by their business partners.
  5. Act in the public sphere
    Avon will contribute to stopping human rights abuses in the countries in which we operate. In doing so, we will consult with local communities to identify steps they might take — including public advocacy, collective action, social dialogue, support for LGBTI organizations, and challenging abusive government actions.
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Fabrice Houdart, United Nations Human Rights Officer and co-author of the Standards said: “It is particularly meaningful to have Avon join the early supporters of these Standards as Avon has always been about inclusion, and this is a natural extension of that practice and philosophy. Avon is demonstrating a leadership role in fostering greater inclusion of LGBTI people in the many places it does business. We hope more businesses will follow globally.”

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