Pinoy homosexuals unite to fight discrimination

Various groups of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) in the Philippines have closed ranks to fight what they consider as the pervasive evil that has stalked them for decades: discrimination.

This time around, to ensure that their concerted effort would not go to waste, LGBT organizations linked up with non-LGBT or “straight” groups to press for the protection of human rights, notwithstanding their sexual orientation and gender identity.

These more than 20 LGBT and non-LGBT groups now make up a network called “Project Equality.”

Percival Cendaña, a member of the group Babaylanes Inc., said the aims of Project Equality primarily are to stop the prejudices against third sex and push the government to make policies recognizing the human rights of “LGBT people.”

“Hindi pa nga kasama doon sa ating legal language ‘yong LGBT people. For example, wala pang polisiyang pang-gobyerno that make mention of LGBT people. Ibig sabihin, as far as the government is concerned, invisible ang mga bakla at lesbyana,” Cendaña said during the launching Thursday of Project Equality in Quezon City.

For 10 years, Cendaña said different LGBT groups across the country would separately conduct demonstrations demanding a stop to discrimination. These efforts, though, were marked with frustration and disappointments.

Gender bias in the community, workplace, schools, and even within the family persists, Cendaña lamented.

“Hindi na-a-address talaga… halimbawa, up to now people would still find it difficult to accept a gay mayor. May ganoong biases sa society. Matagal ‘tong fight na ito,” he said.

This, however, does not deter the group from pushing with its goals until they are achieved. He said another five to 10 years of struggle would not discourage them.

Fresh strategy

The government’s alleged inaction to come up with policies and laws ensuring equal protection for LGBTs is being blamed for the continued prevalence of discrimination in the society.

A bill prohibiting discrimination in the private and public sectors on the basis of sexual orientation has already been filed in Congress in 1999. However, the measure is still pending.

Project Equality spokesman Jonas Bagas said what is needed is a new approach to address the problem.

“A decade is just too long. We can’t allow ourselves to be silenced or paralyzed by inaction on the part of Congress,” Bagas said.

If going to the national government has yielded little results, Bagas said their network is eyeing the local government units to push their equality agenda.

Project Equality lauded the Quezon City government for its anti-discrimination ordinance in employment. “And we commend the Albay local government for tackling the same matter in a draft ordinance,” it said.

The group said it would also bring its campaign to Manila, Marikina, Cebu, Davao, Bulacan and other areas.

Babaylanes’s Cendaña said it is also seeking the help of women’s groups and labor unions. He is also not discounting the possibility of holding a dialogue with churches.

Project Equality also vowed to launch series of activities calling for the immediate passage of anti-discrimination bill and other “LGBT-friendly policy proposals.”

These measures include the reproductive health bill, students rights and welfare bill, Commission on Human Rights strengthening bill, amendments to the HIV/AIDS law, repeal of the anti-vagrancy law, amendments to the anti-trafficking law, and amendments to the civil registry law to allow change of sex.

The group is planning to seek intervention from the Supreme Court to ensure that the human rights enshrined in the Constitution are also extended to LGBTs.

“We hope that the petition would create a legal remedy to stigma and abuse. We shall persist with our sole agenda, equality for all,” it said.

As for same-sex marriage, Burgos said: “We will not surprise the public with same-sex marriage. But we will conduct awareness campaigns to remove flawed notions on same-sex partnerships to prove that same-sex couples are fundamentally no different from heterosexual couples.”

The group is joining the annual “pride march” on Saturday afternoon in Malate, he said.

Not exclusive

The lack of official statistics on the number of LGBTs in the country only proves that society has not yet fully recognized their existence, according to Cendaña.

And yet, in any given population, 10 to 15 percent fall under the LGBT group, he estimated.

Cendaña pointed out that LGBTs’ fight against discrimination should not be their struggle alone.

After all, he noted that almost every heterosexual has friends who are homosexuals.


2 Responses to “Pinoy homosexuals unite to fight discrimination”

  1. It’s really strange to me how people are discriminated because of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, whatever. We are all different in some manner, yet we are all so similar in so many others. Peace, Jim

  2. maspnational Says:

    It is strange and should be placed also on top of our struggle. Not just to end the discrimination, but also to liberate and empower every women and men on the principle of equality, justice and humanity.

    Thank you Mr. Jim for giving such earnest comment. More power for your advocacies! =)


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