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Valkyrie cited for alleged transphobia

A number of transgender women allege being denied access to a bar in Taguig City because they are said to be “cross dressing”. According to Naomi Fontanos of GANDA Filipinas, this “demonstrates how widespread the discrimination that transgender Filipinos face not only in getting access to public accommodations such as restaurants, gyms, malls, trains, et cetera, but also to education, employment, and social services including healthcare.” A dialogue is now being sought with the management of the bar for it to revisit its anti-trans policies.

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SCREEN CAPTURE OF VEEJAY FLORESCA'S TUMBLR ACCOUNT

SCREEN CAPTURE (FROM VEEJAY FLORESCA’S INSTRAGRAM ACCOUNT) SHOWING THE FASHION DESIGNER PHOTOGRAPHED BESIDE AN IMAGE OF HER CREATION.

Even as the LGBT community all over the world marks June as the Pride month in remembrance of the Stonewall Riots that is considered to have helped ignite the modern LGBT movement, transgender woman fashion designer Veejay Floresca alleged that on June 13, she was almost refused entry by high-end bar Valkyrie in Taguig City.

Veejay Floresca

Interviewed by Outrage Magazine, Floresca stated that even if she was on the guest list, “the bouncer (still) refused to let me in. He said that they don’t allow crossdressers (inside the venue),” said Floresca, who stressed that when she went to the venue, “I wore a very decent dress; nothing vulgar.”

According to Floresca, she was eventually allowed to enter the venue, though only after she showed the bouncers her California State I.D., where her gender marker identifies her as “female”.

Floresca was, by the way, earlier warned about the alleged practice of barring transgender women of Valkyrie. When her sister mentioned “one of the newest and hottest clubs in the city”, she warned Floresca that she “witnessed many times (when) transgender women weren’t able to get in (the venue).” Floresca was, therefore, asked to get in touch with her friends from high places (e.g. owners of Valkyrie, or at least those who know the owners of the bar) for her name to be included in the guest list.

“I feel sad,” Floresca said. “In my three years of living in the US, this never happened to me.”

NOT THE FIRST

Floresca is actually not the first to raise this issue.

Earlier, Miss Gay Manila 2015 Trixie Maristela also alleged that she was denied entry into the venue after being told to dress up like a man or get a VIP table.

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Interestingly, according to Maristela, she had been frequenting Valkyrie, and her earlier visits were not problematic, highlighting a seeming inconsistent implementation of dress code policies.

Trixie Maristela

Even earlier, In February, one Mico Lloren alleged that his transgender friend was also denied access to Valkyrie. In a Facebook post, Lloren stated that a bouncer wanted his transgender friend to “wear pants since her ID is showing ‘male’.”

Mico Lloren

Lloren’s party actually had a table reserved for them, highlighting inconsistent bar entry practices, considering Maristela’s claim that she was told to get a VIP table for her to be allowed entry.

“In what other circumstances would it be (okay) to discriminate against someone like that? To deny someone access to public accommodations? Everyone should be treated with dignity and respect, whether we’re stopping at a bar for a drink, eating in a restaurant, or seeking medical treatment,” Lloren wrote, admitted to being “stung” by the experience.

WIDESPREAD DISCRIMINATION

According to Naomi Fontanos, who heads Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, “Valykrie is part of a long list of establishments including Embassy Super Club in Taguig, Prive in Makati, Manor Club in Eastwood, Aruba Bar and Restaurant in Metrowalk in Pasig with dress codes that target and oppress transgender women. I have no idea how this dress codes are used in dealing with trans male customers, but they are definitely used to bar entry, refuse service to, and publicly humiliate transgender women in the Philippines whose legal documents of course reflect our male sex assignment at birth and the legal names we were given at birth but did not choose.”

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For Fontanos, “the Valkyrie case demonstrates how widespread the discrimination that transgender Filipinos face not only in getting access to public accommodations such as restaurants, gyms, malls, trains, et cetera, but also to education, employment, and social services including healthcare.”

“No crossdressing” policies are not new. In the past, establishments like Cafe Havana and Ice Vodka Bar in Greenbelt 3 made the news for such policies; these were eventually successfully overturned through advocacy work.

“However, with no national anti-discrimination law in place, these policies actually continue to be enforced although sometimes inconsistently,” Fontanos said.

All the same, for Fontanos, “while an anti-discrimination law in place will certainly help change the situation, the heart of the matter here really is gender-based oppression or how people’s notions of gender become a basis to treat others badly. So, what we really want to change here are perceptions of gender or preconceived notions about what it means to be a gendered person and a customer. And that goes right to the heart of business policy and should be asked of business owners: Do people who do fit into your notions of gender NOT DESERVE to be customers in your establishments? Why? I have found that when you asked these questions, business owners usually have no clear cut answers and realize they impose a silly practice that will give them a bad reputation and lose them customers in the long run. So they eventually remove their anti-trans dress code policy. Some establishments have remained stubborn however like Aruba Bar and Restaurant in Metrowalk, Pasig. This shows that in the Philippines, if you have money and connections, you can get away with bad behavior.”

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OPEN TO DIALOGUE

Outrage Magazine tried to inquire about Valkyrie’s policies through its listed hotline (+63 917 680 8888), but has been unsuccessful in getting any response.*

However, earlier reporting on this same issue in March, Philstar.com was able to speak with a certain Monique who confirmed that they do not allow crossdressers to enter the club.

Asked… for confirmation, Monique clarified that a transgender can still be allowed to enter the club “as long as medyo decent naman daw po ang suot.”

Monique said that by saying decent, they mean “not super sexy” or “not too daring.”

“We allow crossdressers basta huwag lang po daring na iyong tipong mababastos sila,” the receptionist said.

Fontanos said that such venues may let transwomen in later on, but “what if they have a female client who presents as male just because she finds those clothes more comfortable? Or what if they have a real live heterosexual male cross dresser go there? Those people are not necessarily part of the trans, les, bi, gay, queer and intersex (TLBGQI) community, but are also affected by this issue. If we will fight these types of policies, we must fight for the right of all to be themselves.”

“In the end, I hope that Valkyrie agrees to a dialogue and later on lifts its anti-trans dress code policy. Ultimately, what we want is for all establishments to adopt a human rights business policy that upholds the principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination across the board,” Fontanos ended.

*THIS IS A DEVELOPING STORY, AND OUTRAGE MAGAZINE – JUST AS WE WILL CONTINUE PRESENTING THE SIDE OF THOSE WHO ALLEGE GETTING DISCRIMINATED BY THE VENUE – WILL CONTINUE TO TRY TO REACH OUT TO VALKYRIE TO GET ITS SIDE OF THE STORY

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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NEWSMAKERS

Only 17% of Phl companies have anti-discrimination policies in place, according to study

To push for stronger action which will challenge Philippine businesses and fellow LGBT organizations to ensure LGBT diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce is launching a campaign, #ZEROto100PH.

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Photo by rawpixel from Pixabay.com

Some may say LGBT workplace discrimination isn’t real; but 30-year old transwoman Grace (not her real name) begs to differ. While she now runs her own beauty business, she had to face prejudice and bigotry as a transwoman professional before she decided to become an entrepreneur.

One morning, the sales director in a previous company based in Metro Manila called her for a meeting. She was one week in the job and had her hopes up. Little did she know that she was about to have a taste of transphobia that fateful day.

“He told me that I should dress appropriately,” Grace said, recalling how her superior – a cisgender heterosexual man – singled her out for wearing casual female clothing in the office. This, despite the fact that other women in the office were freely wearing the same kind of clothing she was called out for.

That wasn’t the only time she experienced that kind of discrimination.

In 2010, she recalled applying for a company where the hiring executive strongly suggested changing her gender expression would make her a more suitable candidate for the position.

“I asked for a feedback kasi, if open for diversity,” she said. “Then the interviewer said that it could help if I had ‘clean’, short hair. I had long hair since college.”

She was forced to have her hair cut–despite the fact that her hair length wasn’t really a part of the job description. While this opened doors for her, she decided that she no longer wanted to pretend.

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“In the last company I worked in, I finally asked if I can grow my hair back. I didn’t get any response. That’s when I decided I was going to start on my own.”

In the absence of a law that protects LGBT people in the workplace, professionals like Grace will continue to face discrimination–hindering them from contributing to their fullest potential.

In fact, Filipino companies have failed dismally in the country’s first Philippine Corporate SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression) Diversity and Inclusiveness Index, a study done by the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce, an organization which champions the LGBT contribution in Philippine business.

The study aims to establish a quantitative baseline SOGIE Corporate Diversity and Inclusiveness Index across the top corporations as well as other small and medium enterprises in the Philippines.

Undertaken by research firm Cogencia with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Philippines, the study surveyed 100 companies which cumulatively employ 267,231 people.

These companies are classified according to these broad categories: Philippine-based (those that operate mainly or are headquartered in the Philippines), Foreign-headquartered, BPO/BPS (Business Process Outsourcing/Services), and Government.

Only 17% of companies interviewed have policies in place against discrimination based on SOGIE. All are from BPO/BPS and Foreign-headquartered organizations.

Meanwhile, companies which do not have LGBT-inclusive policies and benefits also did not express interest in creating said company policies and benefits in the next 5 years.

“The results of this study are a wake-up call to all of us, not just businesses or professionals, but also our senators who are impeding the passage of the Senate Bill No. 1271, or the Anti-Discrimination Bill,” says Brian Tenorio, chair of the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce. “Our fellow LGBT professionals must be guaranteed their protection in the workplace, so they can positively contribute to their respective companies, without fear of prejudice or discrimination.”

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Adds H.E. Marion Derckx, Ambassador of the Netherlands Embassy in the Philippines: “Keeping the benefits of diversity requires awareness and action from all sides – from employers, from employees and also from government. Diversity is about inclusion.”

To push for stronger action which will challenge Philippine businesses and fellow LGBT organizations to ensure LGBT diversity and inclusion in the workplace, the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce is launching a campaign, #ZEROto100PH.

The campaign aims to get 100 Philippine companies in 2019 to pledge their commitment towards LGBT diversity and inclusion, starting with SOGIE training in their workplace and revising their company policies to protect LGBT professionals.

Full copy of the report, visit www.lgbtph.org/csdi.

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