LAGABLAB Alert: Philippine Senate to tackle bills criminalizing discrimination against Filipino lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders August 7, 2006Posted by lagablab in Anti-Discrimination Bill, lagablab alert!.
For the very first time, the Philippine Senate will tackle proposed bills that seek to penalize discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTs). On August 9, 2006, the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, chaired by Sen. Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, will hold a public hearing on three anti-discrimination bills that provide protection for Filipino LGBTs against discriminatory policies and practices in the areas of employment, education, health care, and public service, among others.
The three bills are SBN 165 (by Sen. Luisa ‘Loi’ Ejercito-Estrada), SBN 1641 (by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago), and SBN 1738 (by Sen. Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla, Jr.). They were all referred to the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development. Of the three bills, SBN 1738 is the most comprehensive. It is also the same as House Bill 634, a counterpart bill filed by AKBAYAN Representatives Loretta Ann Rosales, Mario Aguja, and Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, which was already approved by the House of Representatives Committee on Civil, Political, and Human Rights.
LAGABLAB supports the three bills and endorses SBN 1738 as the main reference bill for all the LGBT-related anti-discrimination bills in Senate since it is the most inclusive.
Since 1999, the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network Philippines, Inc. (LAGABLAB-Pilipinas), a network of several lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgenders (LGBT) organizations and individuals, has been push for a national legislation that would criminalize discrimination against Filipino LGBTs. During the 12th Congress, the House of Representatives approved the same bill (then numbered H.B. 6416), but the Senate failed to approve it.
LAGALAB is once again urging NGOs and concerned citizens in the Philippines and the international LGBT community to support the passage of a national law that penalizes discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.
Here are some background materials on the Stop Discrimination Now campaign:
- HB 634
- SBN 165
- SBN 1641
- SBN 1738
- FAQs on the Anti-Discrimination Bill
- How laws are made in the Philippines
- Directory of the members of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development
Despite popular notions that “homosexuality is tolerated in the Philippines”, Filipino LGBTs still encounter discrimination in many areas. Within the family, sexual abuse and physical assault are employed to ‘cure’ LGBTs of their ‘disease’. Discriminatory policies and practices also create a climate of impunity for those whose hatred against LGBTs may lead to further abuses, or even death.
Below are some of the cases that LAGABLAB and its organizations were able to document:
- “Masculinity tests,” or the imposition of an arbitrary test to weed out gay students who wish to enter some schools. Implemented by some Catholic schools, the test is done by a panel of teachers and school admissions officials. Those who flunk the tests but have good academic records are admitted on probation for one year and prohibited to display any indication of homosexuality (from wearing long hair to entering a same-sex relationship)
- Refusal of entry or the provision of sub-standard services in commercial establishments. Ambiguous dress codes and related policies are used to bar LGBTs from entering establishments that are otherwise open to the public
- Dismissal of lesbian students once school authorities discover their homosexuality
- “Stereotyping” in employment opportunities. Gays are accepted solely in fields where they presumably excel, such as the arts, entertainment and beauty industries. Outside these professions, however, homosexuals are discriminated in sectors that are typically male-dominated, such as the military, police and engineering, and to a certain extent, politics and government service. Recently, despite the existence of law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the police force, the leadership of the PNP expressed their support for the non-acceptance of homosexuals in the service.
- Dismissal due to one’s disclosure of sexual orientation or homosexual relationship, as in the case of two women working in a human rights NGO, who were dismissed after they revealed that they are lesbians and are having an affair.
- In some banks, lesbians and gays are denied promotion due to the presumption that they wish to evade the “natural responsibility” of creating a family, and thus cannot be trusted with additional responsibilities in the office.
- The police uses vintage laws like the anti-vagrancy and anti-public scandal laws to harass, physically abuse and/or extort from gay men, as in the case of raids in bars and movie houses where those who are arrested are forced to give money in exchange for the dismissal of the nebulous charges against them. These raids are oftentimes covered by the media and the arrested men are forced to face the camera and accommodate interviews.
- The anti-kidnapping law is regularly used to break apart consensual relationships between adult lesbians, since it is presumed that such relationship could only exist when one of the partners is forced into it.
The Anti-Discrimination Bill seeks to penalize these practices to allow Filipino LGBTs to exercise and enjoy rights and freedoms accorded to all Filipinos. The bill itself is a product of an innovative consultation within the community. By criminalizing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the bill affirms the Philippines’ Bill of Rights and the country’s commitment to international human rights standards.
Please urge the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development to approve promptly SBN 1738. Write to the Committee Chairperson, Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, to express your support for the bill. A sample letter follows.
HON. JINGGOY EJERCITO ESTRADA
Chairperson, Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development
5th flr., Rm. 526 GSIS Bldg., Financial Center, Roxas Blvd., Pasay City
Trunk Lines: (632) 552-6601 to 80 loc. 5539 – 41 / 5583 / 2470
Direct Lines: (632) 552-6685 – 86
Ms. Gemma Tanpiengco
Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development
Tel. (+632) 5526820 (telefax) or (+632) 5526601 loc. 3301
Email addresses of all members of the Committee on Labor: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Please send a copy of your letters to LAGABLAB:
c/o Amnesty International Pilipinas
#17-D Kasing-kasing St. corner K-8th Street,
Kamias, Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax: (+632) 9276008
HON. JINGGOY EJERCITO ESTRADA
Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development
I am writing to you as a member of the international human rights community deeply concerned about ending discrimination toward lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders throughout Filipino society. I understand that several bills have been filed and referred to the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development that provide comprehensive protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, education, as well as medical and public facilities, among other realms.
The bills were filed by Senators Luisa ‘Loi’ Ejercito Estrada (SBN 165), Miriam Defensor-Santiago (SBN 1641), and Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla, Jr. (SBN 1738). The most comprehensive of all is SBN 1738.
The goal of human and civil rights measures is to protect all persons equally, without distinction or discrimination. By enshrining protections against abuse and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, an anti-discrimination legislation advances the promise of the universality of rights. These are not claims to “new rights” or to “special rights”, but rather extend protections for human dignity to include the most vulnerable groups in society, and to publicize and prevent the least visible and most easily concealed violations.
In adopting this legislation, the Philippines would join the rapidly growing ranks of countries around the world–including South Africa, Fiji, Brazil, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Israel, and Costa Rica–that recognize the importance of national-level anti-discrimination legislation in the fulfillment of international human rights standards. Indeed, within an atmosphere of stigma, discrimination, and lack of social acceptance toward any social group, enshrining protection in law is essential not only as a deterrent to discrimination and statement of values, but also as an educative tool in itself.
I respectfully urge your committee to approve SBN 1738 as soon as possible. The enactment of a national law against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity affirms the human rights and freedoms that are enshrined in our Constitution. It also upholds the country’s commitment to international human rights standards, as reflected in our signing of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, International Convention on Social and Economic Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, among others.
Thank you for your efforts to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation–and concern ultimately for the human rights of all persons in the Philippines.
CC: Members of the Senate Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development:
Sen. Ramon B. Magsaysay, Jr.
Sen. Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid
Sen. Richard J. Gordon
Sen. Manuel B. Villar, Jr.
Sen. Ralph G. Recto
Sen. Rodolfo G. Biazon
Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr.
Sen. Manuel A. Roxas
Sen. Sergio Osmeña III
Sen. Alfredo S. Lim
Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson
Sen. Luisa “Loi” Ejercito Estrada
Sen. Juan M. Flavier
Sen. Francis N. Pangilinan
Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr.