The Forum says ‘tis time to address LGBT issues - Forum for Family Planning and Development Inc.

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The Forum says ‘tis time to address LGBT issues

posted June 24, 2019 at 10:30 pm by Macon Ramos-Araneta

Beyond recognizing the June celebration of Pride Month and the fun parades in various parts of the country,  an advocacy organization said it was time to beef up 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,” said  The Forum for Family Planning and Development (The Forum), the advocacy organization that works in communities to advance reproductive and sexual rights, lauded the local government initiatives in making conditions better for LGBTs.

Chi Laigo-Vallido, director for programs and advocacy of The Forum, said the efforts of local governments to implement ordinances that prevent and prohibit abuse, exploitation, bullying and acts that limit employment, education and other opportunities for LGBTs had set precedents for more political leaders to formulate similar laws.

Apart from LGBT police help desks, Vallido said there was also an anti-bullying law that Congress passed in 2013 that included protection for LGBTs and child protection policies covering LGBT children and youth.

She said the Philippines was also a signatory to various international covenants promoting human rights under the United Nations.

She noted that recently the World Health Organization had removed transgender in its classification of mental disorders and calls it a legitimate sexual orientation.

“The good efforts towards LGBTs have yet to ascend into a national commitment,” says Vallido, as she took to task President Rodrigo Duterte to lead this commitment.

“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,” she said.

Vallido notes 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” could be cured.

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.

What I know is that all Filipino citizens are entitled to enjoy the rights that are guaranteed under our Constitution. It makes no distinctions. We in The Forum will continue our work in communities that advocate for inclusivity and understanding to gender diversity,” Vallido said.

Vallido also 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 SOGIE measure intends to prevent acts of discrimination based on people’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

At present, Vallido said more  than 20 local government units (LGUs) have anti-discrimination ordinances that offer protection and encourage respect for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations in the Philippines.

In Luzon, these LGUs 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. In Mindanao, the same is done in the provinces of Agusan del Norte and Dinagat Island as well as the cities of Butuan and Davao.

A few more towns and barangays across the country have their own ordinances that seek to uphold the rights of LGBTs.

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