GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 June) – Only two of Mindanao’s 27 provinces and also two of its 33 cities have anti-discrimination ordinances that offer protection and encourage respect for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations in the Philippines, a non-government organization disclosed Monday.
Chi Laigo-Vallido, director for programs and advocacy of the Forum for Family Planning and Development, said the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Dinagat Islands and the cities of Davao and Butuan have ordinances that uphold the rights of LGBTs.
But the good efforts of local government units (LGU) towards LGBTs have yet to ascend into a national commitment, Vallido said in a statement.
She cited the pending SOGIE (sexual orientation and gender identity and expression) equality bill or the anti-discrimination bill that Congress has yet to pass. The measure intends to prevent acts of discrimination based on people’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
She took to task President Duterte to lead the national commitment, while scoring him for “poor tolerance” against the LGBT community.
“For a leader who once headed a city (Davao) who has a gender and development code since 1997 and started pioneering strategies in integrating gender and development in various LGU programs, I am saddened that President Duterte is himself the one who does not support the country’s growing maturity towards sexual diversity,” Vallido said.
She noted that Duterte has faltered in his statements for LGBTs and same-sex unions, and most recently, has again invoked homosexuality to insult and imply weakness on his political rivals and critics, including communist rebels and Catholic priests.
He also said being “gay” can be cured. Duterte claimed that arch critic Senator Antonio Trillanes IV is gay.
The LGBT is celebrating June as the Pride Month.
In Luzon, the LGUs that have pro-LGBT ordinances are Cavite province and the cities of Angeles, Antipolo, Baguio, Batangas, Candon, Dagupan, Mandaluyong, Puerto Princesa, Quezon and Vigan.
In the Visayas region, ordinances are being implemented in Iloilo province and the cities of Bacolod and Cebu.
Beyond the recognition of the June celebration of Pride Month and the fun parades in various parts of the country, Vallido said that it is time to step up for the welfare of LGBTs who have unique reproductive and health needs.
“They must be equal before our laws and must be able to access opportunities and services among others just like any and all Filipinos,” she said.
Apart from LGBT police help desks, there is also an anti-bullying law that Congress passed in 2013 that included protection for LGBTs and child protection policies covering LGBT children and youth.
The Philippines is also a signatory to various international covenants promoting human rights under the United Nations. Recently, the World Health Organization had removed transgender in its classification of mental disorders and calls it a legitimate sexual orientation.
The Philippines is praised for being one of the most gay-friendly nations, ranking 10th in a 2014 Pew Research Center survey of 39 countries, that are accepting of sexual orientations and gender minorities.
But Vallido said there are still areas that stigmatize and disadvantage LGBTs.
She called attention to the situation of many LGBTs living with HIV who face discrimination when accessing health services, public places and facilities or wanting to go to school or wishing to work. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)