LGBT group blasts 'discrimination' against transgender

Posted at 03/31/14 8:42 PM

MANILA – A group of transgender people in the country on Monday denounced the alleged discrimination committed by a business process outsourcing (BPO) company in Quezon City against its transgender employee.

In a statement, the Association of Transgender People in the Philippines said refusing call center agent Mara La Torre (John Gerard) entry to a women's toilet and sleeping quarters in the office violates La Torre's gender rights.

"We believe that transgender rights are human rights. We denounce in the strongest possible terms, the hostile, intimidating and offensive treatment that she was given in asserting her right. If this is the manner in which security personnel manage cases such as this one, then it definitely contravened the basic tenets of human rights," the group said.

La Torre, 22, has filed a criminal complaint against May Pacheco and her supervisor Mineleus Llegunas before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office for violation of City Ordinance SP1309, S-2003 prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace.

The group said La Torre's case of going to the women's washroom is not just a matter of choice, but also a matter of right.

"Mara's case is a very telling example of how deeply lacking some BPO companies is in terms of living up to their values of respect and diversity," it added. "We believe that transgender employees must be allowed to use bathrooms that match who they are, and companies must have guidelines that support the rights of transgender people to access bathrooms without harassment or discrimination."

The group said that the humiliation and discrimination La Torre received from the two guards of the call center affected her emotional well-being.

"In effect, Mara had to overcome humiliation, stress and emotional anguish overtime. The gravity of the discrimination brought forth untold repercussions to her emotional well-being," it said.

The group lauded La Torre for her courage to stand up for her rights and hopes this would inspire other members of the LGBT community to do the same whenever they encounter such situations.

"We further believe that the eventual decision on this case will inspire other LGBTs to fight for their rights without fear of retribution. And, more than anything else, this case of discrimination will be a litmus test for the QC ordinance and the protection that it purportedly aims to afford," it said.