Women’s Front: End homophobia. Pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill now!
Philippine society despite claims to cultural and ethnic diversity is reeking with bigotry and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression — the dark legacy of our brutal colonial past. Colonizers labeled people who were formerly not regarded minorities or classes to be looked down on. The communal Filipino were taught to distinguish people either as homosexual and heterosexual, to be Christianized or perish as pagan, hate themselves for having darker skin, and be classified as loyal to foreigners to be part of wealthier classes against the masses of low-income slaves or laborers.
Bakla, bayot, tomboy, gay, lesbian… Discriminatory terms that are originally alien and non-existent in the early Filipino society, and now our community eventually borrowed the looking glass of its colonizers and learned to judge people according to their categories. And historically, these cultural curses are now developed enough and used to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTs) Filipinos.
Discrimination and violence against LGBT are real and deliberate realities, past and present, affecting communities both on the national level and in the Cordillera region. They are not imagined finger pointing in a plea for special rights. We attempted to condense this broad historical catalogue of violations of our human rights in the Shadow Report (http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/session13/PH/JS17_UPR_PHL_S13_2012_JointSubmission17_E.pdf) we submitted in December 2011 to the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC/UPR).
In the four page Shadow Report, LGBT groups took to task the government of the Philippines for the hundreds of cases of violations against the civil, political, economic, cultural and social rights of LGBTs in the Philippines that included killings, the deliberate segregations, the relentless gay bashing, the labeling, ignorance, bigotry, homophobia, and prejudice. We demanded that the Aquino administration take action for the unsolved deaths of 156 LGBTs that have been murdered to date due to homophobia, including our city’s own “Berta” and Dr. Andres Guimban.
Invoking the Yogyakarta Principles, we asked for protection of our human rights to freedom of expression and freedom to establish our families, against the oppressive public demonstrations of religious zealots who called on the City Council to declare lesbian and couples persona non grata. We demanded equal pay for equal work for lesbian workers at the Baguio Export Processing Zone in accordance to the conventions of the International Labor Organization.
Yet on May 22nd in Geneva, when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNCHR) grilled the government of the Philippines for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, the delegation led by Secretary Leila Delima totally ignored our report and recommendations to respect, protect and promote LGBT human rights. Even the basic recommendations from the representative of Argentina for the passage of the antidiscrimination bill was shelved, amidst the government’s pompous official report that covered up its bloody record of killings, political repression and anti-poor economic programs.
Realizing how the Aquino administration remains blind and deaf to the plight of LGBT, we the misjudged and the victims of homophobia in the Cordillera region resolve to press forward with our just demands. We continue to forge alliances with our straight allies. We assert our rightful existence. We invoke our inalienable right to life and liberty afforded to every man irrespective of categories.
We extend our hands to LGBT teenagers who commit suicide after incessant bullying, the many who were fired or disqualified from employment, and who suffer from lower pay and other forms of workplace discrimination. We continue to organize among transgender students who are banned from expressing their innate gender and lesbians who continue to be denied appropriate and affordable health care.
Today, the Baguio Pride Network marches to educate and mobilize the community of Metro Baguio and show support to all legal, economic and social forms of struggle to realize equal application of human rights. Henceforth, we collectively implore reinforcement of such covenant to which our country has committed to uphold. We will fight for the ratification of HB 1483, the Anti-Discrimination Bill authored by Bayan Muna Representative Teddy CasiHo , which will finally define discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and providing penalty thereof. We aspire for a society free from any form of hostility brought about by discrimination and prejudice.
In this light, united with all the other oppressed and exploited sectors of society, in the campaign and continuous call for the immediate passage of the RH Bill that will provide reproductive health security concerning not only the LGBT community but especially the Filipino women. Moreover, the campaign to stop the corporatization of Public Hospitals including the Baguio General Hospital that is seemingly a pro-elite program of the Aquino Regime.
We challenge the government and all its agencies to do their part in fulfilling their responsibilities, in integrity with policy and practice to really serve the people. We challenge institutions, organizations, schools, families and, yes, we dare churches, we dare people who preach about love and acceptance, we challenge you most especially, to look at the real meaning of what it is to love in every sense of it and stand beside us and be part of this long, difficult but colorful struggle for gender equality. We will never stop at knocking on the doors of congress and the government until our rights are secured and exercised. Today we celebrate our diversity – PROUD, UNITED and STRONG! # nordis.net
The following organizations compose the Baguio Pride Network: Lesbians for National Democracy (Lesbond), Progressive Organization of Gays Metro Baguio (Progay-MB), Thunderbirds Association of the Cordillera and Suburbs, Inc. (TACSI), Ikatlong Lahi • Metropolitan Community Church Metro Baguio (MCC-MB), Front Row Dragon.Magnum Artistry, Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center (CWEARC), Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), Innabuyog-Gabriela, UP Baguio Kasarian Gender Studies Program, UP Baguio Student Council Gender Desk, LGBT Individuals, LGBT Families, Friends and Advocates.