A few years ago, the police found drugs in the home of 60-year-old lesbian woman Jojo. She was arrested even though – she claimed – the drugs were not hers. She was eventually found guilty, and is now serving a life sentence in the Mandaluyong Correctional Institute for Women. Jojo wants to appeal her case, but – poor as she is – she has no money to pay a good lawyer. She also tried asking for help from various government officials, only to be told to just wait it out – i.e. to wait at least 18 years so that she can then get executive clemency from whoever may be the country’s President then. And so Jojo is eyeing for her case to be maybe revisited when she’d already be in her 70s… even as she said she did not commit any crime.
Jojo’s story is only one of the 13 that are contained in Golden Rainbow, a storybook from OutRight International and EnGendeRights, Inc. to tell the experiences of select older LGBTQIA Filipinos, hopefully to empower LGBTQIA elders to lead advocacy efforts, increase access of older LGBTQIA persons to services, and advocate for responsive policies for older LGBTQIA persons. Part of the LGBTI Elders Advancing Project, it is funded by SAGE USA.
Atty. Clara Rita Padilla, executive director ng EnGendeRights, Inc., noted the intersectionality of the issues of those who told their stories. “(They) tell us about how leaving home and dropping out of school led to limited career options and difficulty finding employment — eventually leading to a series of hardships way beyond joblessness, poverty, hunger, and social isolation.”
For Padilla, therefore, this is “a must-read for everyone to step up the fight for an inclusive and equal world for all LGBTQIA persons.”
Cristobal and Padilla stressed that – if any – Golden Rainbow shows the need to urgently pass the SOGIE Anti-Discrimination Law and the Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Law to prohibit all types of discrimination and violence against LGBTQIA people.
“We challenge everyone to open their hearts and minds to include issues of older LGBTQIA persons in their human rights work. We cannot marginalize sectors within our own groups simply because they are silent. The older LGBTQIA persons are now breaking their silence and are ready to let their own voices be heard, far and wide. Let’s listen to them and act now,” Cristobal said.
Golden Rainbow was written and edited by Cristobal and Padilla, along with Annette Visbal and Grace Poore.
For donations for older LGBTQIA people in the Philippines, get in touch with Ging Cristobal at 09175570405.