By Mark Kevin Reginio of UP-CMC for Kodao Productions
The Rodrigo Duterte government has done little for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) sector a year into its term, a group said in a forum held at the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Gender Office Friday.
LGBT group Bahaghari-Metro Manila said Duterte’s campaign promises were only “charot” (empty) as these were never translated into action.
“Mayroon bang nangyari? O, katulad ng marami, charot lang?” Bahaghari member Andrew Zarate asked.
The group said discrimination, oppression and gender-based violence against the LGBT community still persists and even intensified under Duterte.
Bahaghari recalled Duterte said in 2015 the LGBT deserve equal rights and treatment including their right to marry and build a family.
A few months into his presidency, however, Duterte said in a meeting with Filipinos in Myanmar that same sex marriage is against the law and the teachings of Catholicism.
“Hindi ‘yan (same sex marriage) pwede sa amin, Katoliko kami at there is the Civil Code which says that you can only marry a woman…for a woman to marry a man,” Duterte said in a speech delivered before a Filipino community in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar last March 19.
“Pinaasa lang talaga tayo na may pagbabagong magaganap sa ilalim ng bagong gobyernong ito,” Zarate said.
UP College of Arts and Letters professor and Bahaghari member Bernadette Neri during the forum said state institutions still primarily determine the discrimination and oppression against members of the LGBT community.
“Sa tahannan nariyan ang diskriminasyon, sa paaralan, sa trabaho, relihiyon, midya, pamahalaan, at iba pang mga institusyon,” she said.
Some cases of the discrimination against LGBTs in universities include repressive policies like dress codes, hair cut policies and ban on organizing LGBT groups, and conservatism on sex education in some schools.
Neri said LGBTs suffer the same discrimination and suppression in workplaces around the country.
“[Sa] labor code hindi protektado [ang mga LGBT], walang LGBT rights diyaan kaya nagaganap pa rin ang diskriminasyon sa hiring [at] sa renewal. May mga kaso pa nga sa job interview nila may mga katanungan na nakabababa ng kanilang pagkatao,” Neri said.
“Gayundin may supresyon sa gender identity. Kung ikaw ay may ari ng lalaki tapos ang identification mo ay babae, pinipilit magdamit lalaki kung ano yung ari mo. May mga kompanya rin na nagbabawal mag-cross dress ang mga transgender at ang rason kasi hindi raw magandang tingnan,” she added.
The professor attributed these incidences to the lack of legislation of LGBT rights in the Philippines.
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association in 2012 tagged the country as a country with no specific legislation in relation to LGBT rights.
Similarly, according to a research by UP Psychology professor Eric Julian Manalastas, only two out of 81 provinces have anti-discrimination ordinance making barely seven percent of the population protected against discrimination.
Since 1996, 156 LGBTs have been murdered with around 60 percent performed against gays.
A prominent case wa the murder of transgender Jennifer Laude by US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton inside a bathroom in Olongapo, Zambales in 2014.
Pemberton was found guilty of homicide and is supposed to serve ten years of imprisonment but remains under the custody of the United States government inside its Manila embassy compound.
Apart from winning the legislative battle, Bahaghari said the continuation of the peace talks between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Duterte government shall recognize some LGBT rights through the prospective Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER).
“Doon, komprehensibo siya. May tungkol sa paggawa, pagsasalupa, tungkol sa pambansang minorya, sa pambansang industriyalisasyon. Plus, nandoon din yung komprehensibong pagtatala kaugnay ng karapatan ng kababaihan at pagsusulong ng gender equality,” Neri said.
Neri, citing NDFP’s CASER draft, said the prospective agreement encourages the parties to take measures to end discrimination and harassment of LGBTs, including bad employment practices and lack of social services.
The draft also recognizes the civil right of LGBTs to marry, Neri said.
“Hindi lang [dito] basta-basta maglalabas ng same-sex marriage bill. Kinakailangang amyendahan mo yung mga existing na batas na kumokontra sa pagkakaroon, pagtatamasa ng sibil na karapatan na ito,” Neri explained.
The professor said that while Bahaghari strongly pushes for LGBT rights as a community, she said their success lies in their solidarity with the struggles of other sectors.
“Ang isyu ng mga LGBT ay hindi hiwalay sa isyu ng lipunan sapagkat ang mga LGBT ay napapaloob din sa iba’t ibang sektor,” Neri said.
Bahaghari should also fight for the rights of the workers, youth, persons with disabilities, national minorities, migrants, and other sectors of the community, she added.
Neri said Bahaghari also recognizes the merit of mass actions to further its calls on the Duterte administration for LGBT rights.
Bahaghari will join the rallies when Duterte delivers his second state of the nation address on July 24, Neri said.#