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TRR to mark WAD 2014 on Dec. 7

For World AIDS Day (WAD) 2014, The Red Ribbon Project will have events not only for a day but an entire week, culminating on December 7 at the Liwasang Aurora in Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City. Themed “Engaging the Youth in Getting to Zero”, this year’s WAD observance highlights the need to focus on the youth to curb the spread of HIV.

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In observance of the World AIDS Day (WAD) 2014 in the Philippines, The Red Ribbon Project (TRR) will have events not only for a day but an entire week, aiming to increase HIV and AIDS awareness by involving a group of HIV-positive volunteers and HIV community advocates. WAD 2014 will be held on December 7 at the Liwasang Aurora in Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City.

Themed “Engaging the Youth in Getting to Zero”, this year’s WAD observance highlights the need to focus on the youth to curb the spread of HIV in the country.  Statistics back this, showing that the youth is the most impacted population by HIV and AIDS in the Philippines. The latest HIV and AIDS Registry of the Department of Health-National Epidemiology Center for September 2014 showed that the biggest number of cases belongs to the 20-29 age group. TRR, nonetheless, has been handling cases even in the age range of 14-20 for the past three years.

“It is a great struggle for the youth, especially teenagers, to have HIV in the Philippines, where stigma and discrimination coming from families and the society is a big obstacle to acceptance and treatment,” said Pozzie Pinoy, president and chairman of TRR. “The youth face eviction from their families, inability to support their HIV treatment on their own, and concerns on employment that most often lead to late diagnosis of opportunistic infections, non-adherence to antiretroviral therapy, and even suicide.”

Pozzie Pinoy, however, believes that “the challenge can be placed on the youth. They all need to be empowered about HIV awareness, particularly about prevention and about HIV testing. They all need to be given an opportunity to step up and raise their voices together with HIV advocates and the people living with HIV (PLHIV) community.”

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The December 7th event will start with the AIDS Walk Philippines, a commemoration service for those whose lives were cut short by the still-dreaded disease.  It will be followed by commitment ceremonies for all those who will be attending WAD 2014.

For Pozzie Pinoy, TRR’s commitment to it’s advocacy doesn’t end with the observance of WAD. “We are not here only to provide care management to the PLHIV community, but we are committed to align our mission with (serving) all Filipinos, believing that HIV is not a concern of only the at-risk populations but of everyone all over the country.”

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Trans woman hacked to death in Bolinao, Pangasinan

The lifeless body of Jessa Remiendo was found stripped and hacked on the white sand 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,” 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 hate crimes continue to be pervasive in the Philippines, a transgender woman was found dead after she was hacked multiple times 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 stripped and bloodied 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, with her neck “almost completely cut through,” and her right eye gouged with a slash.

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 hardworking).”

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. 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).”

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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.”

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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.”

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

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Bulacan holds 1st LGBTQIA summit

The LGBTQIA community in the province of Bulacan held its first-ever summit, eyeing to build the community by creating more accessible and affirming ways for its members to be accepted and recognized.

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Photo courtesy of Ms Dindi Tan

Rainbow gathering in Bulacan.

The LGBTQIA community in the province of Bulacan held its first-ever summit, eyeing to build the community by creating more accessible and affirming ways for its members to be accepted and recognized.

According to Bulacan Governor Daniel Fernando, the country is one of the most LGBTQIA-friendly nations in the world, ranking in top 10 out of 39 countries open to the LGBTQIA community.

But issues continue to plague the LGBTQIA community.

For one, Ron Chie Santos, nurse hub manager of the Luntiang Silong HIV Unit of the Bulacan Medical Center, noted that Bulacan is among the provinces in Central Luzon with the highest number of HIV cases. There are now 2,270 HIV cases in Bulacan (from 1984 to May 2019), with most of the cases coming from the cities of San Jose Del Monte (257), Meycauayan (123) and Malolos (115).

To date, to respond to the province’s HIV situation, the province has the Luntiang Silong HIV Unit of the Bulacan Medical Center, the mother hub facility in this province that conducts and offers HIV treatment and anti-retroviral therapy. It has seven facilities that offer HIV testing and therapy in the cities of Malolos, San Jose Del Monte, Meycauayan and towns of Guiguinto, Baliwag, Marilao and Sta. Maria.

The province still has no anti-discrimination ordinance to protect the human rights of LGBTQIA people; but in 2013, one of the barangays elected a transgender woman – Ms Jhane Dela Cruz – as the first transgender village chief of Barangay Iba in Hagonoy, Bulacan.

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Comprehensive anti-discrimination bill pushed in Congress, eyed to also benefit LGBTQIA Filipinos

Sen. Sonny Angara assured that members of the LGBTQIA community will still benefit in the passage of a more comprehensive anti-discrimination law. This following Pres. Rodrigo Duterte earlier expressing his intent to expedite the passage of the same, rather than the SOGIE Equality Bill.

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All photos taken during Metro Manila's Pride parade in 2018

Pushing for a more comprehensive anti-discrimination law.

Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara assured that members of the LGBTQIA community will still benefit in the passage of a more comprehensive anti-discrimination law. This following Pres. Rodrigo Duterte earlier expressing his intent to expedite the passage of an anti-discrimination bill (ADB), rather than the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill.

In July, Angara filed Senate Bill (SB) 137, which seeks to prohibit discrimination based on age, racial or ethnic origin, religious belief or activity, political inclination or conviction, social class, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, marital or relationship status, disability, HIV status, health status or medical history, language, physical features, or other status.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rosa Hontiveros is the sponsor of SB 159, the SOGIE Equality Bill that – as the bill’s name stresses – is more focused on SOGIE-related discrimination. This has been erroneously seen to solely benefit only members of the LGBTQIA community, even if everyone – including heterosexual-identifying people – also have SOGIE.

According to Angara, his proposed comprehensive anti-discrimination bill (CADB) is “still a step in the right direction. This bill has better chance of passing because it’s more comprehensive.”

For Angara, the SOGIE Equality Bill is more concentrated on a gender-based discrimination, whereas his version also talks about “religion, belief, ethnicity, appearance and many other issues.”

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Angara’s bill lists 13 “acts of discrimination”. Protected attributes under the proposed bill includes age, racial or ethnic origin, religious belief, political inclination or conviction, social class, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, marital or relationship status, disability, HIV status, health status or medical history, language, physical features or other status.

The inclusion of SOGIE had to be highlighted, and even with the inclusion of other minority sectors, because there are fears that this will eventually be removed by those opposing the promotion of equal rights for every Filipino.

In July, when the bill was filed, Angara noted that “discrimination, in any shape or form, has no place in Philippine society.” And while the Philippines has come a long way in terms of being an open and equitable society, “there is still a lot more to be done to totally eliminate all forms of discrimination in the country.”

“Discrimination remains a problem be it for women, children, persons with disabilities or the LGBTQ community. We are currently enjoying remarkable economic growth, but while there is still discrimination taking place, we cannot call ourselves a truly progressive nation,” Angara said at that time.

He added: “Araw araw marami sa ating kababayan ang nakakaranas ng ibat ibang uri ng pang-aapi. Karaniwan ang mga nagaganap na diskriminasyon ay inaakalang normal o katanggap tanggap ng mga taong gumagawa nito… Nais nating maintindihan ng lahat kung anong mga gawain, salita o polisiya na maituturing na diskriminasyon o pang-aapi sa kapwa.

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The bill prescribes a penalty of one to six years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to P500,000 for any person found to have committed acts of discrimination.

“Discrimination is a problem that is not confined to a few people alone. It concerns everyone. No one should feel helpless when faced with discrimination. We appeal to our colleagues to support this bill,” Angara said.

Meanwhile, in the Lower House, Bagong Henerasyon party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera, the author of an anti-discrimination bill in the House of Representatives, said that she “welcomed” the approach of Angara in including SOGIE-related discrimination as part of the CADB.

Herrera, however, expressed concerns over differing provisions in the anti-discrimination bills proposed in the Lower and Upper Houses.

For instance, there are some prohibited acts of discrimination listed on the House bill that are not included in the Senate bill. Also, while the House bill eyes for all law enforcers to enforce non-discrimination (including the police and other stakeholders), the Senate version identified the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) as the sole government body enforcer.

“What is important to us in the House is that all marginalized sectors and persons who are being discriminated against – including the LGBTQI+ – are given equal protection of, due process, access, and welfare under all our laws,” she said.

SB 137 has yet to be taken up in the committee level. It was already referred to the Senate committee on cultural communities, which is helmed by Sen. Imee Marcos.

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Young adults less LGBT tolerant, according to report

The survey found that non-LGBTQ adults who said they felt “very” or “somewhat” comfortable in all of those scenarios was 49%, reflecting no change from 2018. For the 18 to 34 demographic, however, that percentage fell from 53% to 45%.

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Photo by ROBIN WORRALL from Unsplash.com

Surprise, surprise!

A survey shows that overall acceptance of LGBTQ people among young adults – at least in the US – dipped for the second year in a row.

In “2019 Accelerating Acceptance Report”, conducted by The Harris Poll for LGBT advocacy group GLAAD, 1,970 Americans over the age of 18 were asked a series of questions with regard to their reactions to several different situations involving LGBTQ people. Participants were – specifically – asked, among others: 1) how they felt about seeing a same-sex couple hold hands; and 2) learning that a family member or a doctor identifies as LGBTQ and learning that their child has been placed in a class taught by an LGBTQ teacher.

The survey found that non-LGBTQ adults who said they felt “very” or “somewhat” comfortable in all of those scenarios was 49%, reflecting no change from 2018. For the 18 to 34 demographic, however, that percentage fell from 53% to 45%.

According to GLAAD, 2019 marks the second year in a row that LGBTQ acceptance for those aged 18 to 34 has dropped. In 2017, that figure was at 63%. The most striking drop in acceptance appeared among young women, whose comfort level dropped from 64% last year to 52% in the newly published report.

According to GLAAD president/CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, the two-year decline may be linked to the “divisive rhetoric both in politics and in culture.”

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Duterte open to certifying anti-discrimination bill as urgent

President Rodrigo Duterte said he would certify as urgent a bill seeking to protect the human rights of LGBTQIA Filipinos. “Yes… what would make them happy,” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang Tuesday.

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President Rodrigo Duterte said he would certify as urgent a bill seeking to protect the human rights of LGBTQIA Filipinos.

The anti-discrimination bill (ADB) has been pending in Congress for 19 years now. Its latest iteration, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill, was filed by Akbayan Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and the intention remains the same – i.e. to prevent and penalize discriminatory acts committed against any person based on his/her/their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Duterte, in a speech in Malacañang Tuesday, said he would do whatever would make the LGBT community happy.

“Yes,” Duterte said in a speech in Malacañang Tuesday, “whatever would make the mechanisms, what would make them happy. Gusto ko, kagaya kay Senator Enrile, gusto ko happy siya.

Duterte was referring to former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s campaign tagline, “Gusto ko happy ka (I want you to be happy).”

Duterte, however, did not specify which version of the ADB he will be pushing, with a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill (CADB) also proposed by Sen. Sonny Angara.

The SOGIE Equality Bill is currently at the committee level in both Houses of Congress.

The measure cleared the House of Representatives in the 17th Congress, but was blocked by conservative “Christian” senators in the Upper House.

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Gay entrepreneur Ricky Reyes – earlier sued for discriminating gay man with HIV – expresses opposition for equal rights

Ricky Reyes, also known as “Mother Ricky”, who helms Ricky Reyes Corporation, joined the talks about the SOGIE Equality Bill, though this time taking the side of those opposing equal rights for other members of the LGBTQIA community.

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Screencap of Ricky Reyes who expressed his opposition for the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill

Ricky Reyes, also known as “Mother Ricky” – who helms Ricky Reyes Corporation and who was earlier sued because he discriminated against another gay person who just happens to live with HIV – joined the talks about the SOGIE Equality Bill, though this time taking the side of those opposing equal rights for other members of the LGBTQIA community.

In a video now making the rounds online, the gay celebrity advocated for members of the LGBTQIA community to just accept their lower social status; at times even contradicting his own arguments.

Reyes, for instance, said that members of the LGBTQIA community should stop “cross-dressing”. “Tigilan na yang kabaklaan… wag na kayong magbistida sa kalye kasi lalo tayong pagtatawanan ng mga tao… dapat magtulong nalang tayo sa kapwa para mahalin tayo ng tao,” he said.

Reyes, incidentally, is also known for wearing clothing traditionally used by women.

He also said that only members of the LGBTQIA community could understand each other.

Lagi kong sinasabi, ang bakla walang makakaintindi kundi kapwa bakla lang,” he said, and so the affairs of LGBTQIA people should not be forced on other people. “Dapat ang affair ng mga bakla dapat sa atin lang yan wag na nating ipagpalandakan sa tao yan.

Incidentally, Reyes was earlier sued for discriminating against another gay man, Renato Nocos, because the latter has HIV.

In 2014, two years after he was illegally dismissed, Nocos – with support from the Associated Labor Unions–Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) – filed a case of discrimination against Reyes and his business partner Tonneth Moreno in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Nocos also filed a separate complaint alleging that Reyes and Moreno failed to pay his Social Security Service (SSS) and PhilHealth premiums since 2003.

READ:  Duterte pledges to work with Congress to pass SOGIE Equality Bill; still not considered urgent

In October 2015, NLRC’s Labor Arbiter rendered a decision declaring that Nocos was, indeed, illegally dismissed. It ordered RRC to pay back wages, salary differential, 13th month pay, ECOLA and attorney’s fees (totaling P615,313.06).

In his recent interview, Reyes similarly advocated “passing”/“stealthing”, saying that “kung ikaw ay may nota, sa lalakeng restroom ka. Pag may kipay ka, sa babae ka. Tapos ang usapan… Lumugar tayo sa tamang lugar… kung ikaw ay babaeng-babae at hindi ka mabubuking, e di lumusot ka (sa banyo ng pambabae) diba? Kung hindi ka makakalusot, anong problema mo?

Reyes also does not believe in equal opportunity to access facilities and/or services. For example, for him, LGBTQIA people should not strive to access the same venues available for heterosexual people and that openly discriminate against LGBTQIA people.

Bakit tayo pupunta ng mga bar at ipagpipilitan mo na girl ka eh may bar naman para sa mga bading, doon ka sa lugar natin… wag mo ipagsaksakan ang sarili mo sa hindi ka matatanggap,” he said.

Perhaps highlighting lack of knowledge re “marriage” versus “civil union”, Reyes insisted that wedding should only be men and women. “Ang pagpapakasal ibigay natin sa babae at lalake yan,” he said.

“Let it be na lang. Ang bakla ay bakla… gilingin mo man yan paglabas niyan ay baklang hamburger,” Reyes quipped.

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