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LAGABLAB Alert: Philippine Senate to tackle bills criminalizing discrimination against Filipino lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders August 7, 2006

Posted by lagablab in Anti-Discrimination Bill, lagablab alert!.
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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:

Background

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.


Action

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
Email: senjinggoyestrada@senate.gov.ph

Ms. Gemma Tanpiengco
Committee Secretary
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: senjinggoyestrada@senate.gov.ph, ramon@magsaysay.com, sen.litolapid@senate.gov.ph, rjgordon@senate.gov.ph, mb_villar@yahoo.com, senrgr@info.com.ph, pongbiazon@yahoo.com, senbongrevilla@senate.gov.ph, mar@marroxas.com, sro3@yahoo.com, limsenate@yahoo.com, media_sen_lacson@yahoo.com, oslee@hotmail.com, jmflavier@pacific.net.ph, kikopangilinan@kiko.ph, aqp@pldtdsl.net

Please send a copy of your letters to LAGABLAB:

LAGABLAB
c/o Amnesty International Pilipinas
#17-D Kasing-kasing St. corner K-8th Street,
Kamias, Quezon City, Philippines
Telefax: (+632) 9276008
Email: lagablab@yahoo.com


HON. JINGGOY EJERCITO ESTRADA
Chairperson,
Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development
Philippine Senate

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.

Sincerely,

__________________

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.

Comments»

1. Anonymous - August 8, 2006

Isang Pahayag ng Pagsuporta sa SBN 1378
Ika-8 ng Agosto 2006
Lungsod ng Quezon

TAMA NA ANG DISKRIMINASYON! – PIGLAS

Bilang mga kasama sa iba’t ibang uri at sektor sa lipunan, pasan ng mga babae ang lahat ng suliranin ng mga sektor na ito. Subalit bukod pa rito, pasan din nila ang mga suliranin bilang isang natatanging pangkat sa lipunan. Doble ang kanilang mga pasanin: bilang mahihirap – manggagawa, mangingisda, maralitang tagalungsod… – at bilang kababaihan na itinuturing na mahihinang nilalang sa isang maka-lalaking lipunan.

Para sa mga kapatid nating lesbiyanang manggagawa, may ikatlong pasanahing higit pang nagpapahirap sa kanilang pang-araw-araw na pamumuhay. Pumapangatlo ang diskriminasyong kanilang nararanasan bilang mga babaeng umiibig sa kapuwa babae.
“Mukha raw akong lalaki kasi ayaw kong magpalda at ayoko ng mahabang buhok. Dahil diyan, mas mabibigat ang trabahong ibinibigay sa akin,” ito ang ibinahagi ni Sam, isang lesbiyanang nagtatrabaho bilang bundler sa isang pabrika ng garments. Dagdag pa ni Beth, isa ring lesbiyanang manggagawa sa packaging department ng isa pang pagawaan ng garments, “pag pumipili ng magna-night shift, inuuna talaga kaming mga lesbiyana. Sabi ng supervisor namin, puwedeng-puwede akong isabak sa panggabi. ‘Kayang-kaya nyo naman yan,’ sabi niya. Pumapayag na lang din ako kasi ayoko mapag-initan. Mahirap mawalan ng trabaho lalo na ngayon.”

Maituturing pa sigurong “masuwerte” sina Sam at Beth dahil may trabaho sila. Ayon kay Sion Binos, PIGLAS Vice Chair for Support Programs and Services, “may mga nababalitaan kaming mga lesbiyana at baklang sa interview pa lang e hindi na nakakalusot. Binabastos pa ng management at sinasabihang di sila puwedeng tanggapin kasi may patakaran umano ang management na di pagtanggap sa mga `gaya nila.’ Kadalasan, last priority ang mga bakla at lesbiyana sa hiring, at nakukuha lang sila kapag malakas ang production.”

Dagdag pa ni Boy Arpafo, Chair ng PIGLAS, “may nagrereport din sa aming di nabibigyan ng promotion o ng karampatang pagtaas ng mga benepisyo ang ilang manggagawang lesbiyana o bakla dahil sa tingin ng management, mas kailangang kumita ng mga manggawang may tradisyunal na asawa at anak.”

Naniniwala ang PIGLAS na dapat nang wakasan ang di-pantay na pagtrato sa mga kapatid nating lesbiyana, bakla, biseksuwal, at transgender sa larangan ng paggawa at maging sa lahat ng antas ng lipunan. Nakasandig ang PIGLAS sa prinsipyo ng pagkakapantay-pantay ng bawa’t nilalang, nang walang pagkiling ayon sa kasarian, seksuwalidad, relihiyon, o lahi.

Buong-pusong sumusuporta ang PIGLAS sa Senate Bill 1738, o ang anti-discrimination bill na panukalang batas ni Senador Ramon “Bong” Revilla. Isa itong malaking hakbang sa pagsupil sa diskriminasyon sa larangan ng paggawa. Nananawagan kami sa ating mga mambabatas para sa agarang pagpasa sa panukalang ito upang maipatupad na ang pagbabawal sa diskriminasyong patuloy na nagpapahirap sa ating mga kapatid na lesbiyana, bakla, biseksuwal, at transgender.

Ang PIGLAS o ang Pinag-isang Tinig at Lakas ng Anakpawis ay isang pederasyon ng mga unyong nangangalaga sa mga karapang-pantao ng manggawang Pilipino. Apilyado ang PIGLAS sa Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL), at sa International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF). Maaring makipag-ugnayan sa PIGLAS sa Center for Community Services (CCS) Building, Ateneo de Manila University, o sa mga telepono bilang 426 5657 at 426 6001, local 4628.

2. IDEALS, Inc. - August 8, 2006

Press Statement
IDEALS, Inc.
Quezon City
9 August 2006

RURAL REFORM GROUP BACKS GAY RIGHTS LAW

On 9 August 2006, the Philippine Senate will, for the very first time, tackle proposed legislation that seek to protect lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTs) from discrimination in the workplace, in schools, in government institutions, and from health care and other public service providers. On this day, the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development will finally conduct a public hearing on three landmark bills that, if passed, will penalize discriminatory acts on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

We congratulate the proponents of these bills – Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Ma. Luisa “Loi” Ejercito — for their laudable efforts in bringing attention to the plight of the Philippine LGBT community. By filing their respective anti-discrimination bills, these brave legislators have shown a genuine desire to bring reality much closer to the noble intentions of the equal protection guarantee that is constitutionally enshrined in the Bill of Rights, as well as in the International Bill of Human Rights contained in the numerous treaties to which the Philippines is a signatory. Having ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the State has the obligation to ensure respect for the human rights of all persons regardless of sex, sexual orientation or any other condition.

We believe that the passage of Senate Bill 1378, the most comprehensive of the anti-discrimination bills currently pending in the Senate, is but a logical next step in ensuring that the State remains committed to its constitutional mandate to uphold the dignity of every human person and to guarantee full respect for human rights. The anti-discrimination bill does not grant special rights to the LGBT community nor afford them a special protected class status. A policy that proscribes discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity benefits all persons – not just the LGBT community — as it reinforces the basic merit system which should exist in any democratic society. Allowing discrimination to go unpunished is tantamount to sanctioning employers, school administrators, landlords, and other service providers to employ some other arbitrarily selected personal characteristic other than ability and merit as the basis for refusing to provide employment, education, housing or other crucial public services like health care and financial assistance.

We call on our friends and colleagues in the social development movement to take an active position on the issue of discrimination. The time has come for us to join our lesbian sisters and gay brothers in conquering the “last frontier of human rights.”

The Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services (IDEALS), Inc is a non-stock, non-profit organization registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2003. IDEALS was organized by a group of agrarian reform and rural development advocates. It aspires to promote and utilize the law as a potent tool for the enforcement of rights and the creation and advancement of opportunities for the rural sector. It also advocates for the development of a policy and legal environment oriented towards enhanced accountability to the rural sectors’ needs and concerns. IDEALS is an equal opportunity employer.

You may contact us through telephone numbers 436 5470 or 929 0782, or by email through ideals05@yahoo.com. Our office is located at 75B K9th Street, East Kamias, Quezon City.

3. Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights), Inc. - August 9, 2006

LEGAL ADVOCATES URGE SOLONS TO APPROVE GAY RIGHTS LAW

In his 2001 report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Sir Nigel Rodley, Special Rapporteur on torture, identified torture and ill-treatment of sexual minorities as an issue of “special concern.” He cited instances where “discriminatory attitudes result in sexual minorities being perceived as less credible by law enforcement agencies or not fully entitled to an equal standard of protection, including protection against violence carried out by non-state actors.” Even at the turn of the 21st century, the Special Rapporteur found that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders are still subjected to “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in non-penal institutions, such as the involuntary confinement in state medical institutions where individuals have been subjected to forced treatment on grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity, including electric shock therapy and other `aversion therapy.’”

Civil rights law and jurisprudence worldwide are replete with examples of prohibition against discrimination towards persons based on decisions that they make to be attuned to important aspects of their selves. Thus, in the same way that oppression based on religion or political affiliation is proscribed in most modern democracies, so too must the State penalize discrimination based on the choice to live consistently with one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, whether as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or straight individual.

The Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights) urges the Senate to pass the anti-discrimination bill filed by Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla (SBN 1738). While the Philippines is a signatory to several international human rights treaties which guarantee equal protection to all persons, these commitments are not self-executory and require an enabling law to punish acts of discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. Beyond its commitments in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Philippine government needs to take a more active role in fighting discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders. Philippine culture being what it is, it is then up to the State to promote ways by which affected citizens are protected.

R-Rights is one with other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy groups and other proponents and supporters of LGBT rights in the Philippines in pushing for the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill. This type of legislation will be the first of its kind in Asia and will finally acknowledge that LGBTs are indeed entitled to the same recognition and legal protections from the State.

R-Rights is a group of lawyers and legal advocates which provides the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community with a legal resource center and academic think tank dedicated to sexual orientation law and public policy. For queries or comments, please email us at r_rightsproject@yahoo.com

4. prowl - August 11, 2006

check out this link… at least we’re getting somewhere.. pls support LGBT rights through awareness and visibility

http://www.yehey.com/lifestyle/nightlife/article2.aspx?id=20947

5. vic - August 15, 2006

Sexual orientation is now one among the groups (others are race, colour, sex, physical and mental disability, and age), that are included in tha Anti-Hate Law of Canada.

The Law (Criminal Code) states that discussion, publication, and broadcasting of material or writing in any forms (movie, literature, novel) that promote hatred toward or among the groups is a criminal offense. Exemption maybe applied to if done in private, or in context of religious discussion. So if you’re in Canada, before speaking or writing your thoughts and views and opinions put them to test first.

By the way, same sex marriage has now been recognized legally and accorded the same legal status and benefits as traditional marriage, which is between a man and a woman. And also the issue of sexual orientation is no longer an issue in this country. It was a divisive one, but we were able put it to rest and in the end, One Great Canadian once said “The government has no business in the nation’s bedrooms.” And with that a pleasant day to all..

6. An "Alternative" Lifestyle - June 24, 2007

Do you REALLY think people HATE us ???

What do you think about all the FAMOUS gay personalities around, who are treated with much respect and appreciation for the work that they do??

What do you think about all the comments that you now receive from people who really know you inside and out??

What with ALL these flicks and magazines and books and even erotic stories found in the tabloids that suggest homosexuality??

Are we really in an “underground” business around here??
Or are we just merely flaunting our gayness for everybody to see??

I think the issue here is not about PERSONS, but about BEHAVIOR…
People accept US as PERSONS, but they may not accept our BEHAVIOR… particularly that part about having sex with men…

and that pisses us off…
talk about imposing our standards on society eh??

Why should we manipulate the law to IMPOSE OUR BEHAVIOR on others? Should not others be respected for their own values??

Forget about your gay orgs or your gay friends or what other gays may have said to you… ask yourself IN YOUR HEART…
Am I really being discriminated against??


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