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More LGBTIQ+, sex worker rights defenders attacked during COVID pandemic

There are more violence against LGBTIQ+ (lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer +) and sex worker rights defenders as the COVID-19 pandemic rages, an international human rights group revealed.

Ireland-based Front Line Defenders  said 50 human rights defenders (HRDs) protecting LGBTIQ+ communities and sex workers in 13 countries had been at risk between April and August 2020 when the pandemic had been at its worst.

“The results were stark. Activists around the world reported an increase in physical attacks, sexual assault, arrests, raids on their homes, and harassment by security forces during COVID-19,” the group said in a report last December 17, International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.

“Almost every week since COVID-19 began, we’ve received photos of violent attacks on the homes of LGBTIQ+ HRDs,” Erin Kilbride, researcher and author of the report, said.

The report said that apart from the virus itself, state responses to the pandemic have affected queer and sex worker communities in ways that worsen class, gender, sexual and racial injustices.

As they responded to emergencies, HRDs from these groups faced increasing risks of arrest, physical attack, and psychological trauma, Kilbride wrote.

Frontline Defenders cited Tanzania where it investigated a spate of attacks on activists’ homes after it became known locally that they were housing LGBTIQ+ people or sex workers at risk of homelessness, hunger and police violence on the streets.

Aside from the east African country, Frontline Defenders conducted fact-finding missions in Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and El Salvador and interviewed respondents Tunisia, the United States, Ireland, Thailand, Malawi, the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, and Eswatini.

Also documented in the report are mass arrests at the offices of LGBTI rights organisations; closure of

HRD-run medical clinics; sexual harassment and detention of transgender HRDs at security checkpoints; homophobic and transphobic defamation portraying HRDs as spreaders of COVID-19; and severe psychological trauma over their inability to fully respond to the many dire needs of their communities.

 “The HRDs who gave their stories to this investigation are enduring violent attacks, raids on shelters, arrests, and rampant stigmatization for peacefully demanding access to food, shelter and healthcare for their communities during the pandemic,” the report said.

The group reported that activists around the world have turned their homes into emergency shelters for homeless members of the LGBTIQ+ and sex workers sectors, but have themselves endure severe physical, sexual and psychological trauma for helping their communities survive the pandemic.

“LGBTIQ+ and sex worker rights defenders have continued their critical, life-saving work during COVID-19 despite immense threats to their physical and psychological health. In addition to human rights advocacy and emergency response work, they are filling humanitarian gaps left by corrupt governments and discriminatory pandemic response programmes,” Front Line Defenders Executive Director Andrew Anderson said.

“Now more than ever, we affirm our call to end attacks on marginalized defenders doing life-saving work on the ground,” he added. # (Report and photo by Raymund B. Villanueva)

Manila Pride protester fights back and narrates ordeal inside police detention

by Mong Palatino

On June 26, a Pride protest was organized in Manila in the Philippines to protest the passage of an anti-terror bill and the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. The police arrested 20 individuals, and charged them with resistance and disobedience to authority, illegal assembly and violation of Republic Act No. 11332, the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases. They were released on June 30 for further investigation.

Carla Nicoyco, a poet and member of activist LGBTQ+ group Bahaghari, shared with Global Voices via Facebook messenger her experience during the protest, arrest, and detention. First, she explained why they organized a Pride protest in Mendiola, a place located close to the presidential palace:

We believe that at its very core, Pride is, and will always be a protest; Pride means fighting back. And so we marched to Mendiola bringing the demands of the people for the right to health, economic aid, and democracy.

Images of the protest can be seen on this tweet:

The decision to hold the rally in Mendiola was widely applauded since it was the first time that a group dared to protest near the presidential palace since COVID-19 lockdown restrictions were imposed in March.

Bahaghari echoed the call of many groups opposing the Terror Bill for containing overbroad provisions that could criminalize many forms of dissent. It castigated the government of President Rodrigo Duterte for its ‘militarized’ response to the pandemic instead of focusing on delivering aid to displaced citizens.

Carla Nicoyco added:

2020 seems like the end of the world. It is marked with fear and paranoia, hostility and violence. The stakes are higher now since we’re experiencing a pandemic under the most incompetent and inutile government that only knows a militaristic response to every problem. This year’s Pride, 51 years after Stonewall, exemplifies that the LGBTQ+ community is still not free as seen in the violent arrest and detention of Pride 20.

Pride protesters inside a Manila police station. Photo from Facebook page of Bahaghari, used with permission.

She then narrated what she and her friends endured inside the Manila police station:

We can say that we were disappointed but not surprised with the violence Pride 20 experienced under the hands of the police. We remained vigilant and invulnerable when we were detained. For almost 5 days, we experienced different forms of torture, from psywar to sexual harassment. Male and female detainees were kept in different offices, and we were only given a corner.

Officers smoked inside even if there were different ‘No Smoking’ signs; they would step on our sleeping mats when they passed through our space; we did not get any sunshine since we were literally in that corner of their office the whole time; they tried to take one genderqueer member away for questioning; they tried to prevent our trans woman member from staying with the female detainees; one officer was watching porn and masturbating one night in the female quarters.

She expressed gratitude to the overwhelming support given by many groups and individuals during their detention which she believes was an important factor for their release:

All these we endured for almost 5 days, and we would not have survived if it were not for different organizations and individuals here and abroad who gave material and moral support.

Finally, she concluded with a rousing message addressed to the LGBTQ+ community:

Us queers have lived our days in hiding and fear. We’re living in a world that does not want us to exist. Like other oppressed sectors of society, we’ve experienced abuse, injustice, and violence firsthand. We’ve been handed our sorry lot of the world when we know there’s a better one. But we’re here. We persist against all odds. Our existence is resistance. We’re here to dismantle oppressive systems, to change the things we cannot accept. We stand hand in hand with our other oppressed siblings all over the world. We must resist against the Duterte regime, and the other fascists of this world, these slouching beasts. Look them in the eye and be at the vanguard of this revolution together with the toiling masses.

After the release of the 20 Pride protesters, they filed a counter-charge against the police for unlawful arrest, slight physical injuries and maltreatment. #

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Kodao publishes Global Voices articles as part of a content-sharing agreement.

Bahaghari holds Pride March 2019

Nagsagawa ang Bahaghari, ang militante at makabayang organisasyon ng LGBTQ+ (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer +), at iba pang grupo ng isang Pride March noong Hunyo 28 sa Mendiola sa Maynila.

Ang Pride March ay may temang “Ang Pride ay Protesta, Ang Pride ay Paglaban!” na layuning ihatid ang panawagan na pantay na karapatan para sa LGBTQ community.

Ipinagdiwang din sa araw na iyon ang ika-50 taon ng Stonewall Riots sa Manhattan New York.


Ayon sa Bahaghari, ito ang kauna-unahang pagkilos ng LGBT community na nanawagan na wakasan ang diskriminasyon gayundin ang karapatan ng mga manggagawang migrante.

Ipinarating din nila sa Pride March ang matinding pagtutol sa kontraktwalisasyon sa paggawa, TRAIN law ni Duterte, batas militar sa Mindanao, hustisya para sa pinatay na human rights worker at bakla na si Ryan Hubilla pati ang pag-giit ng soberanya sa West Philippine Sea laban sa China at US. (Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao. Music: Background news)

Marvia Malik, Pakistan’s First Transgender Newscaster, Wants to Change Societal Attitudes Toward Her Community

By Anas Saleem

Marvia Malik has made history in Pakistan’s media industry by purportedly becoming the country’s first transgender news anchor.

The 21-year-old from Lahore, who has a bachelor’s degree in journalism, applied to work at Kohenoor News, a private news channel. The chief executive officer of Kohenoor News, a private news channel, says Malik was hired on merit, and Malik made her on-air debut on 23 March. Read more

IFI apologizes to sexual minorities, rejoices in the presence of LGBTIQ+ among members and clergy

Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) urged its members to embrace lesbians, gays and people of all other sexual orientations in an edict issued by its Supreme Council of Bishops (SCB) earlier this year and currently being circulated on social media.

Hoping to end “hurtful hate and suspicion,” the Church said it is challenged to stand with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning and those who identify with the other sexual minorities (LGBTIQ+) as it did when it “affirmed the gift of women priesthood” in the 1990s.

“We believe that the Church must openly embrace God’s people of all sexes, sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions (SSOGIE) as we embark on a journey toward a just and peaceful world,” the SCB statement “Our Common Humanity, Our Shared Dignity” said.

Founded in 1902 as a revolutionary national church, IFI continues its reform-oriented doctrine and practice, including tolerance of freemasonry, optional celibacy for its clergy, women priesthood, and special missions for oppressed sectors such as the Lumad of Mindanao.

The Bishops apologized to the sexual minorities for the failures in the past.

“We humbly ask for forgiveness for the many times we have shown indifference, and have made the LGBTIQ+ people feel less human, discriminated against and stigmatized. We apologize for instances they felt that, through our thoughts, words and deeds, God’s love is selective,” the statement said.

IFI said the presence of the sexual minority among its members and clergy must be recognized and rejoiced.

“We applaud their persistent belief in God’s embracing love. The judgment, intolerance and non-acceptance have not stopped many from serving the Church, even through the priestly order. They have enriched the life, work and witness of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente,” it said.

The SCB also said it hopes its move can effect change among other Churches and church people.

“Through this declaration, we implore agenda-setters to discuss laws and initiatives challenging LGBTIQ+ discrimination. Only through this can we truly protect our brothers and sisters in the community, against issues such as abuse and the rise in HIV and AIDS cases in the sector; against avoidable fear, suffering and caution,” it said.

Need to propagate

IFI priest and human rights advocate Dionito Cabillas said their Church must strive to propagate the statement as it is an official declaration from its supreme council.

Cabillas said not all IFI members are ready to accept the edict, but its clergy must explain and teach it in their respective congregations.

“To be true to our revolutionary tradition, we must be a Church that truly loves God, serves the people and struggles to eliminate all forms of discrimination,” Cabillas said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva/Featured image from IFI-Negros Occidental FB page)

US Marine found guilty of killing Filipino transgender

Militant organizations cheered as the Olongapo Regional Trial Court found US Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott guilty of homicide for killing Filipino transgender Jennifer Laude.

Led by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, they held a vigil rally last December 1 as the promulgation of the judgement was ongoing.

Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr said that the Filipino people should remain vigilant on where the convict would be jailed.

Their fears were proven correct soon after as the Philippine government agreed to returning Pemberton to the US-controlled facility Joint US Military Advisory Group compound inside Camp Aguinaldo.

This move violated the court’s order that Pemberton should first be committed to a Philippine jail facility such as the National Bilibid Prisons pending formal agreements on where the convict should serve the rest of his jail term.