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Join the 2006 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride March November 28, 2006

Posted by lagablab in Anti-Discrimination Bill, campaigns, LGBT News.
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The Task Force Pride, the official organizing network of the annual Manila Pride March, is inviting everyone to join the 2006 LGBT Pride March, which will take place in Manila City on December 9, 2006. (more…)

Rep. Abante did it again! November 17, 2006

Posted by lagablab in Anti-Discrimination Bill, Discrimination, gay discrimination, gay rights, gay rights Philippines, in the news, lagablab alert!, LGBT News.
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In the House of Representatives, Rep. Bienvenido Abante (6th District, Manila City), the Chairperson of the Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights, blocked anew the passage of HB 634, or the Anti-Discrimination Bill, following the sponsorship speech made by AKBAYAN Rep. Etta Rosales. (more…)

Aruba urges court to dismiss case against discriminatory dress code November 3, 2006

Posted by lagablab in campaigns, gay discrimination, lagablab alert!, LGBT News.
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Ban Goza Inc., owner of the Aruba Bar and Restaurant, has asked the Pasig Regional Trial Court to dismiss the civil case filed by Christopher Borja (aka Inday Garutay). Ban Goza Inc. cites two grounds why the case should be dismissed: that the Court has no jurisdiction over the persons of the defendants and that the complaint does not state a cause of action.

The first ground is based on technicalities. According to Ban Goza, the Court failed to acquire jurisdiction over the corporation and its individual owners because the summons were not properly served. It alleges that the “summons was not served upon defendant Ban Goza Corporation as mandated by the rules” and that “neither were summonses served upon the individual defendants in accordance with the mandate of the rules.” The summons were signed by Lendley Batilaon, “a mere management trainee who is obviously not a person in charge at Aruba Bar and Restaurant.”

The second carries the bulk of Ban Goza’s arguments. It states the complaint is wanting because it does not prove that the defendant (Aruba Bar and Restaurant) really violated the primary right of the plaintiff (Inday Garutay). Below are the main arguments:

  • Aruba has the right to impose a dress code since “there’s no law, rule or a generally accepted principle of international law which prohibits or outlaws the implementation of a dress code.” (emphasis theirs);
  • Nothing also exempts homosexuals “from the application of a validly and legally imposed dress code, such that a violation of such exemption would amount to legal discrimination. The true essence of democracy requires that such a dress code be applied to all persons,” regardless of race, status, sex, or sexual preference;
  • There was a “fair warning” posted at the entrance of Aruba that the management has the right to bar the entry of clients who are inappropriately dressed and that Inday Garutay was asked to leave the premises in a “nice way”;
  • Everyone, regardless of race, status, sex or sexual preference, are indiscriminately welcome to enter the establishment. It must be noted, however, that like any private establishment, Aruba has the right to impose a dress code, which is necessary to avoid the happening of an event where a male customer dresses as a female and enters the female comfort room, to the detriment of female patrons who may be offended or made uncomfortable.

In its motion, Aruba also presented a rather curious discussion on same-sex marriage:

It must be noted that even under the Family Code of the Philippines, Articles 2 and 5 thereof allow a marriage only between a male and a female. As a matter of fact, Articles 45(3) and 55(6) of the same law even provide that lesbianism and homosexuality are grounds for annulment and legal separation, respectively. Notwithstanding this apparent discrimination under the law, this has never been regarded in reality and in law as such. The deeper and more profound reason prohibiting same-sex marriages is based on the impossibility of reproduction rather than on invidious discrimination on account of sex or sexual preference.

Download the whole motion here.

Updates on Anti-Discrimination Bill September 26, 2006

Posted by lagablab in Anti-Discrimination Bill, campaigns, LGBT News.
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Here are some updates on the Anti-Discrimination Bill (SBN1738 and HB634):

  • In Senate, the office of Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla asked the Committee on Rules to have SBN1738 referred to the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, which is now chaired by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile. The Committee on Rules has not responded to the request yet and it is not clear still if the Enrile’s Committee will organize a new hearing for the bill or just use the proceedings from the Labor Committee hearing;
  • The House of Representatives, meanwhile, is poised to approve AKBAYAN Rep. Etta RosalesHB 634. The House and Senate versions are identical;
  • Amnesty International, an international human rights organization, will launch an global campaign for the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill. AI-Pilipinas has worked closely with LAGABLAB for the Stop Discrimination Now! campaign. Earlier, two other international organizations, the Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists, have expressed support for the enactment of the Anti-Discrimination Bill.

In Uganda: Press Homophobia Raises Fears of A Crackdown September 8, 2006

Posted by lagablab in Discrimination, LGBT International Solidarity, LGBT News.
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In Uganda, where anti-sodomy laws still exist, a tabloid called Red Pepper recently published the names of alleged gay and bisexual men, including army officers, priests, university lecturers, entertainers, bankers, students and lawyers. Human rights organizations like the Human Rights Watch (HRW) fear that this would lead to a crackdown against the gay community. Red Pepper also announced that it would soon publish a similar list of alleged lesbians.

Below is HRW’s press release on the issue.

Uganda: Press Homophobia Raises Fears of Crackdown

Government Campaign against Gay and Lesbian Community Escalates

(New York, September 8, 2006) – In a country where a sodomy conviction carries a penalty of life imprisonment, a Ugandan tabloid’s decision to publish the names of alleged homosexuals is a chilling development that could presage a government crackdown, Human Rights Watch said today. The lesbian and gay community in Uganda has long been stigmatized and harassed by government officials.

“For years, President Yoweri Museveni’s government routinely threatens and vilifies lesbians and gays, and subjects sexual-rights activists to harassment,” said Jessica Stern, researcher in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program of Human Rights Watch. “At a moment when sensational publicity has spread fear among a whole community, the authorities must exercise their responsibility to protect, not persecute.”

Human Rights Watch called on Ugandan authorities to:

  • End a long campaign of homophobic statements by top officials, including President Museveni;
  • Cease arrests under the sodomy laws and promptly repeal them; and
  • Offer protection against violence and harassment to human rights defenders working to protect lesbian and gay rights.

On August 8, the tabloid paper Red Pepper published a list of first names, workplaces and other identifying information of 45 alleged homosexuals, all men. The paper claimed it was publishing the list “to show the nation … how fast the terrible vice known as sodomy is eating up our society.” The paper has since told civil society activists that it plans to publish a similar list of alleged lesbians.

Homophobic allegations in the Red Pepper have previously led to police action. In 2002, the tabloid ran banner headlines and photographs about an alleged wedding between two women. Kampala police promptly arrested the women in question. Although they were freed when an attorney intervened, they were jailed again and held for several days, allegedly for their own safety, after a mob threatened them. A Ugandan pastor who had counseled them was later forced to leave the country.

Same-sex sexual relations are criminalized in Uganda under a sodomy law inherited from British colonial rule. Section 140 of the Penal Code criminalizes “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Section 141 punishes “attempts” at carnal knowledge with a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment. Section 143 punishes acts of “gross indecency” with up to five years in prison. In both Britain and Uganda, these terms were long understood to describe consensual homosexual conduct between men.

Background

For close to two years, Human Rights Watch said, officials have regularly threatened and harassed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Ugandans. In October 2004, the country’s information minister, James Nsaba Buturo, ordered police to investigate and “take appropriate action against” a gay association allegedly organized at Uganda’s Makerere University.

State-owned media have repeatedly called for stronger measures against homosexual conduct. On July 6, 2005, a writer in the government-owned New Vision newspaper urged authorities to crack down on homosexuality, saying, “The police should visit the holes mentioned in the press, spy on the perverts, arrest and prosecute them. Relevant government departments must outlaw or restrict websites, magazines, newspapers and television channels promoting immorality – including homosexuality, lesbianism, pornography, etc.” Later that month, local government officers raided the home of Victor Mukasa, a lesbian activist and Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda. They seized documents and other materials, and arrested another lesbian activist and held her overnight.

On September 29, 2005, President Museveni signed into law a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The amendment says that “marriage is lawful only if entered into between a man and a woman,” and specifies that “it is unlawful for same-sex couples to marry.” A parliamentary spokesperson said at the time that criminal penalties for engaging in such marriages would be imposed later.

The government has also silenced discussion of gay and lesbian rights and lives. The Broadcasting Council, a board of government censors, fined a radio station 1.8 million shillings (more than US$1000) for hosting a lesbian and two gay men on a talk show, where they protested against discrimination and called for repeal of the sodomy laws. In February 2005, the Media Council – a state censorship board – banned a staging of the play, “The Vagina Monologues,” by the U.S. author Eve Ensler, because it “promotes illegal acts of unnatural sexual acts, homosexuality and prostitution.”

Men named in the Red Pepper’s August 8 article have reportedly already been threatened and harassed. Ugandan activists point out that, in a deeply patriarchal society, accusations against alleged lesbians could subject them to violence in the family and community. U.N. statistics in 2000 showed that 41 percent of Ugandan women had suffered domestic violence.

A March 2005 Human Rights Watch report on “abstinence-until-marriage” HIV programs in Uganda found these programs were denying young people accurate information on HIV transmission and on sexual health. These programs also intrinsically discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. With a legal ban in place against gay or lesbian relationships, the programs promote only permanent abstinence and are uniformly silent about safer sexual practices. Promoting abstinence until heterosexual marriage is the continuation of an outright denial by the Ugandan government that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people exist. In March 2002, while accepting an award for his country’s HIV/AIDS prevention programs, President Museveni said simply, “We don’t have homosexuals in Uganda.”

“Uganda’s once-successful HIV/AIDS prevention programs are already reeling from the impact of silence and bad science,” said Stern. “Driving vulnerable people underground can only hamper those programs further.”