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Trans woman hacked to death in Bolinao, Pangasinan

The lifeless body of Jessa Remiendo was found on the shore of Patar in Bolinao, Pangasinan. Remembered as kind and hard-working, Remiendo’s case highlights how “hate crimes can just be committed against people like us,” said Noreen Barber, overall president of the United Pangasinan Association LGBTQ+.

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Composite image by OutrageMag.com

Perhaps highlighting how LGBTQIA-related crimes continue to be pervasive in the Philippines, a transgender woman was found dead in Bolinao town in Pangasinan.

As earlier reported by Noreen Barber, overall president of the United Pangasinan Association LGBTQ+, the body of Jessa Remiendo was found on the shore of Patar on Tuesday, September 17. This was eventually confirmed by Bolinao town police chief Major Dennis Cabigat.

According to the police report, Remiendo – who used to work in one of the resorts in Bolinao – was drinking with coworkers and her sister at the Valdevia Resort on Monday, September 16. She left the group to buy some cigarettes; but she never returned.

Her lifeless body was found the next day. Stripped of her clothes, she was hacked multiple times.

In a post on her Facebook page, Barber said that this is the first time that something like this happened in the province. This is one “karumal-dumal na krimen na mahigpit na kinokondena ng LGBTQIA (community),” Barber stated, adding that “marami ang hindi makatanggap sa pangyayaring ito dahil isa siyang mabuting tao; napakabait at masipag si Jessa (this is a heinous crime that the LGBTQIA community condemns… Many cannot comprehend this because Jessa was a good person; she was kind and hard-working).”

Barber cautioned that the gruesome murder should signal other LGBTQIA people to be cautious because “hate crimes sa mga katulad natin ay walang pinipili. Hanggat di pa naipapasa ang SOGIE Equality Bill tayo ay mananatiling the most unprotected and neglected sector sa ating komunidad (hate crimes can just be committed against people like us. For as long as the SOGIE Equality Bill is not passed, we will continue to be the most unprotected and neglected sector in our community).”

Various LGBTQIA organizations are already condemning the crime.

In a Facebook post, UP Babaylan stated: “Brutal hate crimes like this are the most violent expression of the prejudice against people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC). In the transgender community alone, there were 29 murders documented in the Philippines from 2008 to 2015, including the high-profile case of Jennifer Laude.”

[TRIGGER WARNING: Hate Crime]Earlier today, the mutilated body of Jessa "Shantal" Remiendo, a transgender woman, was…

Posted by UP Babaylan on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

It, therefore, “condemns in the strongest possible terms this violent killing of our trans sister. We demand that the police immediately respond to this case with a fair and extensive investigation, and the prosecution of the perpetrators. We also call on the local government units of Bolinao and Pangasinan to prioritize the resolution of this case, and to enact protective measures for their LGBTQI community in the absence of a national anti-discrimination law.”

For UP Babaylan, similar to Barber’s call, “this only stresses the need for the immediate passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill. We demand that our senators do their duty to protect our constitutionally-recognized rights as human beings, and finally pass into law one of the policies that will protect us from discrimination on the basis of our SOGIESC.”

For Sanggunian: Commission on Gender Equality, the gruesome murder “incites fear among the LGBTQ+, and serves as a wake-up call to open people’s eyes to the vulnerability of the community.”

Earlier this morning, the stripped and mutilated body of Jessa Remiendo, a trans woman, was found on the shores of Patar…

Posted by Sanggunian: Commission on Gender Equality on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

While mourning the death of Remiendo, it is also calling upon the government “to pass the SOGIE Equality Bill to prevent heinous crimes such as (this) from happening, and to protect the rights of (its) citizens.”

For its part, the LGBTQ+ Partylist called on the Philippine National Police and the local government of Bolinao to “act swiftly on (Remiendo’s) case and give her the justice she deserves.”

It added that “it is apparent that even with the safeguards provided by the law in our country, it is not enough to mitigate the discrimination, harassment, and violence experienced by the LGBTQ+ community. Thus, it is of utmost importance that both Houses of the Philippine Congress pass the SOGIE Equality Bill the soonest to provide a national law that will protect everyone regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE).”

The partylist also called for members of the LGBTQIA community to “continually push for a more just and inclusive society where people respect each other’s differences and individual rights. Until every LGBTQ+ person and other minorities in the Philippines feel free enough to live their lives without fear of oppression and violence, let us not stop advocating for our rights.”

For LGBT Pilipinas, “years after the brutal murder of transgender woman Jennifer Laude, the Filipino LGBTQ+ community is again shaken by the news of a mutilated body of transgender woman and breadwinner (Remiendo) who was found on the shore of Patar Beach in Bolinao, Pangasinan. She was hacked to death, almost severing her head from her body, by a criminal still at large. The gruesome image of her stripped body soaked in blood and sand is more than enough reason to say this is not a typical murder case. This is a case of hate crime expressed most violently in prejudice against transgender women and other individuals of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.”

The partylist organization condemned “in the strongest terms such egregious act of hatred, bigotry and violence towards another of our sisters in the community. Remiendo’s murder is undeniable proof that the Filipino LGBTQ+ community continues to be the subject of discrimination amid lack of protection from our government and legal safeguards to rely on. Turning a blind eye on the plight of transgender women only makes matters much worse for our ostensibly civilized society. Whatever the reason, no one—LGBTQ+ or otherwise—deserves to perish in such manner.”

And since the Bolinao police agreed that the killing was “unusual” based on their investigation, “we challenge them to swiftly pursue every lead possible and ensure that Remiendo’s perpetrator will have his day in court. Hate crime, including gender-based violence, is no ordinary felony. It is rooted in one’s strong unfavorable emotions against an individual’s identity and being, that usually makes the LGBTQ+ community a vulnerable target. Time and again, we implore the 18th Congress to finally pass a national anti-discriminatory policy.”

Lastly, “to those who criticize our community for speaking up and fighting for equal treatment and opportunity, it is time you stop the hypocrisy. Keeping safe from harm of discrimination and violence does not give you the privilege to be apathetic and insensitive towards a group of people, especially a minority that has suffered much through the decades. Now more than ever, the LGBTQ+ community has the cause to demand justice,”LGBT Pilipinas ended.

The local police is still investigating the case with one lead.

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Families are major source of abuse for gay women, trans people – report

A global report noted that family members are often the main perpetrators of abuse against lesbians, bisexual women and transgender people.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels.com

For LGBTQIA people, hate can – and does – start at home.

A global report noted that family members are often the main perpetrators of abuse against lesbians, bisexual women and transgender people.

British LGBTQIA organization Stonewall looked at data from 24 countries, and it found numerous countries where LGBTQIA people experienced abuse from family members.

For instance, respondents from Zimbabwe were more likely to suffer violence from relatives than from strangers. In the southern African nation, more than half of the people who took part in the two-year “Out of the Margins” project said they had experienced physical abuse at the hands of family members.

In Venezuela, all of the transgender men surveyed reported attacks by relatives. And – surprisingly – mothers in Venezuelan families were cited as the main aggressors by 71% of bisexuals and 48% of lesbians.

Meanwhile, in Trinidad and Tobago, Montenegro, Burundi and Peru, there were “striking levels of discrimination and violence against trans children and young people in schools”.

The abuses from family members impact the lives of LGBTQIA people, obviously.

In Burundi, for instance, respondents failed to finish their education after families kicked them out of their homes because of their sexuality or gender identity.

“Out of the Margins” examined the LGBTQIA situation across Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe and Central Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean from the perspective of five of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. It focused on health, economic well-being, education, personal security and violence, and civic and political participation.

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City of Manila marks Pride month; still has no anti-discrimination ordinance

This is the latest LGBTQIA-related PR initiative of the LGU. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the City of Manila initially eyed to hold its first “Manila Summer Pride” celebration as a tourism-centric event.

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The City of Manila – via its Public Information Office’s (PIO) Twitter account – marked June as “Pride month”. In a post, Manila’s PIO stated: Ngayong Hunyo ay ipininagdiriwang po natin ang Pride Month. Magkakalayo man, pantay-pantay at sama-sama; pag-ibig para sa isa’t isa. Happy #Pride2020!”

This is the latest LGBTQIA-related PR initiative of the LGU.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the City of Manila initially eyed to hold its first “Manila Summer Pride” celebration as a tourism-centric event.

However, the event was not completely well-received, with Manila’s local government unit (LGU) accused of “co-opting” the LGBTQIA struggle by focusing on just selling it as a “for-tourism” event.

The LGU – under the leadership of former actor and product endorser Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso – still has no anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO) to protect the human rights of its LGBTQIA constituents.

In an earlier report, Michael David C. Tan, editor of Outrage Magazine and concurrent executive director of Manila City-based Bahaghari Center for SOGIE Research, Education and Advocacy, Inc. (Bahaghari Center), said that the LGU’s version of LGBT Pride is problematic on many sides.

If Moreno is “really serious about wanting to support the LGBTQIA community, he should focus on passing an ADO, which will be longer-lasting, life-changing effects on his LGBTQIA constituents’ lives,” Tan was quoted as saying.

In October 2019, the Manila government also painted a pedestrian lane near its city hall with rainbow colors. In a Facebook live video showcasing this, Domagoso was quoted as saying that “we just want to show you in our own little way how sensitive we are with your plight.” However, the focus on partying again surfaced as he added that “tapos next year, pilitin natin sa araw ng Maynila, the biggest mardi gras parade.”

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Ligo Sardines expresses support to LGBTQIA community; moves to go beyond PR

While Ligo Sardines’ efforts – particularly the social media promotion – may be called out as co-opting the rainbow, the company said that they just really wanted the LGBTQIA community to know “that we see you, we hear you, and we love you.”

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For the first time, media-savvy Ligo Sardines – the company that has been regularly churning witty online ads while Philippines was in Covid-19 lockdown – has “made efforts to support the (LGBTQIA) community.”

In a Twitter post, the company – which is brandishing the rainbow flag in its profile – stated: “United by love, we can overcome any challenges our country faces. Love can achieve so much if we allow it to, but it must start with each and everyone of us. To our fellow kababayans and everyone else around the world, we are here for you and we love you.”

Interviewed by Outrage Magazine via Twitter, Michael Tung, VP for advertising of Ligo Sardines, said that “ever since I started working in Ligo two years ago, it was always a goal of mine to support the community in some capacity as I’ve always been a strong supporter of theirs and what they stand for.”

The company actually “had bigger plans set for this initially, unfortunately the pandemic started (before) we could push through with our plans.”

But at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the company donated about 10 to 15 cases of Ligo products to the Home for the Golden Gays in Pasay City, after Tung’s sister-in-law noted that they were greatly affected by Covid-19. “Some of the people there were jobless and food supplies were running low. So we donated as fast as we could.”

As a company, Tung said that Ligo Sardines has also been supportive of its LGBTQIA staff.

“We have quite a number of (LGBTQIA) employees who have been with us for years. We take pride that we don’t discriminate, so should anyone from the (LGBTQIA) community want to apply, they’re welcome to do so. We treat all our employees here as family, given the fact that this business has been a family owned business for over 65 years,”

Also, “as far as policies go, yes we do have same-sex benefits. And as far as I’m aware, this has always been the case.”

While Ligo Sardines’ efforts – particularly the social media promotion – may be called out as co-opting the rainbow, Tung said that “to clarify, I never showed support for the (LGBTQIA) community for profit, I just really wanted the community to know that we see you, we hear you, and we love you. Because that’s what Ligo has always been about: Love. We just wanted everyone to know that we love every one – in it’s rawest and purest form.”

Asked if Ligo Sardines has future plans in helping the LGBT community re: pushing for anti-discrimination bill/law in the Philippines; pushing for marriage equality in the Philippines; and pushing for gender recognition law in the Philippines, among others, Tung said: “First and foremost, it is important for people to remember that Ligo is in the food manufacturing business. So while I do believe and support the things… mentioned, there is a right way with doing it wherein it makes sense for the company. In my case, as head of advertising, it’s about finding the right message and execution in your ad where people can learn more about the (LGBTQIA) rights, marriage equality, and gender recognition, and hope that one day, it’ll help the Philippines come one step closer to a better tomorrow.”

In the end, “As a business, if you have a platform to educate and inform your followers, do so. We’re a long way from an ideal world, but I believe it must always start with having a conversation. So don’t take your platform and followers for granted, use it to better the world,” Tung ended.

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Straight cisgender people more likely to be open-minded, accepting if they see LGBTQIA people in media

Those who have seen LGBTQIA representation are more accepting of gay and lesbian people than those who haven’t (48% to 35%). They are also more accepting of bisexual people (45% to 31%), and of non-binary people (41% to 30%).

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Straight cisgender people more likely to be open-minded and accepting if they see LGBTQIA people in the media. This is according to a study by US media organization GLAAD.

GLAAD’s researchers surveyed 2,031 non-LGBTQIA Americans (those who saw LGBTQIA people in the media, and those who say they have not seen LGBTQIA media representation recently). They found 80% of those who saw LGBTQIA representation are more supportive of equal rights, compared to 70% of those who haven’t seen LGBTQIA people in the media.

For the companies jumping into the rainbow bandwagon: 85% of the straight, cisgender respondents think that companies who include LGBTQIA people in their advertising are showing their “commitment to offering products to all types of customers”.

According to Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD: “The findings of this study send a strong message to brands and media outlets. Including (LGBTQIA) people in ads, films, and TV is good for business and good for the world.”

Other findings include:

  • Those who have seen LGBTQIA representation are more accepting of gay and lesbian people than those who haven’t (48% to 35%).
  • They are also more accepting of bisexual people (45% to 31%).
  • They are also more accepting of non-binary people (41% to 30%).
  • 72% of those who see LGBTQIA representation are more likely to be comfortable with an LGBTQIA family member (versus 66% of those who don’t see that representation).
  • They are more likely to be comfortable if an LGBTQIA family with children moves into their neighborhood (79% to 72%).
  • They are also more likely to be comfortable starting a conversation with someone who is not straight (81% to 76%).
  • 73% of those who have seen LGBTQIA representation first group would be happy if their doctor is gay, lesbian or bi (against 67% of those who haven’t seen recent LGBTQIA representation.

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American Red Cross changes policy on blood donations for gay, bi men

The antiquated, yet still current practice is to ban men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood within 12 months of having sex with another man. But starting June 8, the wait time will be cut to three months.

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Image source: Pixabay.com

The American Red Cross has changed its restrictions on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, and other men who have sex with other men (MSM).

Aside from gay and bisexual men, the policy also affects women who have sex with MSM, and donors with recent tattoos or piercings.

The antiquated, yet still current practice is to ban MSM from donating blood within 12 months of having sex with another man. But starting June 8, the wait time will be cut to three months.

This is not a pro-LGBTQIA move, however; instead, there’s severe shortage of blood donations in the US due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Earlier, in April, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that: “The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented challenges to the US blood supply. Donor centers have experienced a dramatic reduction in donations due to the implementation of social distancing and the cancellation of blood drives.”

The Red Cross’ policies were established in 1983 based on recommendations from the FDA to prevent the spread of HIV. At that time, the FDA implemented a lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

In 2015, during Pres. Barack Obama’s administration, that policy was eased to a ban on donations from men who had sex with the men in the past year.

In Twitter in 2015, the Philippine Red Cross was asked about its policy re blood donation of members of the LGBTQIA community. In its post, the organization stated that: “We do not discriminate. We allow people to donate blood for as long as they practice healthy lifestyle.”

The wording was – obviously – vague, pandering on non-discrimination yet also complying with the more explicit policy of the Department of Health (DOH) pertaining blood donation of men who have sex with men (including gay and bi men).

According to the National Voluntary Blood Services Program (NVBSP) of the DOH, there are individuals disqualified from donating blood (known as “deferred” donors).

“A prospective donor may be deferred at any point during the collection and testing process. Whether or not a person is deferred temporarily or permanently will depend on the specific reason for disqualification (e.g. a person may be deferred temporarily because of anemia, a condition that is usually reversible). If a person is to be deferred, his or her name is entered into a list of deferred donors maintained by the blood center, often known as the ‘deferral registry’. If a deferred donor attempts to give blood before the end of the deferral period, the donor will not be accepted for donation. Once the reason for the deferral no longer exists and the temporary deferral period has lapsed, the donor may return to the blood and be re-entered into the system.”

As per DOH, those who may be deferred include:

  • Anyone who has ever used intravenous drugs (illegal IV drugs)
  • Men who have had sexual contact with other men
  • Anyone who has ever received clotting factor concentrates
  • Anyone with a positive test for HIV (AIDS virus)
  • Men and woman who have engaged in sex for money or drugs
  • Anyone who has had hepatitis
  • Anyone who has taken Tegison for psoriasis
  • Anyone who has risk factors for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) or “mad cow”

Following the changes announced by US FDA and the American Red Cross, no explicit policy update has been announced by the Philippine Red Cross, or the DOH on this.

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LGB individuals have less contact with, and live geographically farther from siblings

LGB individuals had less frequent contact with, and lived geographically farther from their siblings. The pattern of effects was similar for bisexual and gay or lesbian individuals, and stronger for male than female sexual minority individuals.

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Photo by Matheus Viana from Pexels.com

Lesbian, gay and bisexual people tend to live geographically farther away from their brothers and sisters, and have less less frequent contact with them. This is according to new research from Australia, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family.

The study – “Sexual Orientation, Geographic Proximity, and Contact Frequency Between Adult Siblings“, authored by Francisco Perales and Stefanie Plage – suggests that (no surprise here) sexual stigma is a reason why this is so, as it can harm family relationships.

To compare the closeness of sibling relations between individuals with different sexual orientations, the study used data from an Australian national survey (Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey). The researchers analyzed data from 13,252 individuals with 35,622 individual‐sibling pairs.

Key results indicated that — when compared with heterosexual individuals — LGB individuals had less frequent contact with, and lived geographically farther from their siblings. The pattern of effects was similar for bisexual and gay or lesbian individuals, and stronger for male than female sexual minority individuals.

According to the researchers, the findings are consistent with theoretical perspectives highlighting the unique barriers to socioeconomic inclusion experienced by individuals from sexual minorities. They suggest that these barriers begin within the nuclear family.

As quoted by PsyPost, study author Perales said: “We know that people who identify as LGB tend to experience poorer outcomes across life domains than heterosexual people… The dominant explanation for this is that these individuals receive lower levels of social support from their family and the broader community. This is because non-heterosexuality remains a stigmatized and not fully accepted social status.”

Family support – or its lack – is an important issue for members of the LGBTQIA community. A 2016 study, for instance, noted that more than 42% of the individuals who self-identified as transgender or gender nonconforming reported a suicide attempt, and over 26% had misused drugs or alcohol to cope with transgender-related discrimination. After controlling for age, race/ethnicity, sex assigned at birth, binary gender identity, income, education, and employment status, family rejection was associated with increased odds of both behaviors. Odds increased significantly with increasing levels of family rejection.

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