Gov't told: Boost efforts to protect gay rights

Posted at 01/03/12 2:46 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community are seeing signs of hope that their rights will be protected in the country after the United States warned that it will withhold aid from nations which do not recognize gay rights.

LGBT groups on Monday called on the Aquino administration to follow in the footsteps of the US and "take a serious policy position to address the violation of their rights."

"LGBTs in the Philippines are still on the receiving end of stigma, hatred, violence, exclusion, homophobia, transphobia and discrimination. The statement from Secretary Clinton hits close to home as she was speaking of conditions present in our country," Marlon Lacsamana, founder of the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch (PLHCW), said in a statement.

"We hope this will be considered by President Aquino's administration to encourage the full implementation of human rights protection of LGBTs in law, policies and programs," he added.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a speech at the United Nations in Geneva, committed $3 million to start a global equity fund to support civil society organizations working for LGBT rights worldwide.

"Gay people are born into -- and belong to -- every society in the world. They are all ages, all races, all faiths. They are doctors and teachers, farmers and bankers, soldiers and athletes," Clinton said.

Angie Umbac, president of the legal rights group Rainbow Rights Project, said they "await a similar enthusiasm on the part of the Philippine government in heeding this call."

The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay), meanwhile, said it submitted reports to the Human Rights Council to pressure the Aquino government to pass the anti-discrimination bill and introduce other measures in Congress that criminalize hate-related murders of LGBTs.

Progay human rights officer Oscar Atadero said Malacañang has to "start institutionalizing policies that would outlaw workplace discrimination and the bullying of LGBT students."

According to PLHCW, 147 LGBTs have been murdered since 1996, with about 37 of them recorded in 2011 alone.