Tuesday, October 25, 2011

LGBT groups press Aquino gov’t: Comply with treaties before UN human rights review

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists submitted to the United Nations two scathing reports on the human rights violations against LGBT people in the Philippines.

In the first report titled “The Status of LGBT Rights in the Philippines, Submission to the Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review 13th Session,” the groups Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights) and the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch (PLHCW) co-authored a documentation of different abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the country since 2007.

The other document “A Report on Violations of Human Rights Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Philippines” was authored by the Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay).

The complaints add to the many NGO reports submitted to the UN Human Rights Council as an alternative source of data to the official government report that the Aquino government is submitting for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2012. The UPR is a process where the Council examines each member state for its implementation of human rights treaties. The 2012 review is the second time the Philippines will come under the scrutiny of the council.

The RRights-PLHCW joint report scored Malacañang’s snub of the Anti-Discrimination Bill in Congress already pending for twelve years and its refusal to make a stand on resolutions against anti-LGBT violence in the United Nations General Assembly last year. President Aquino’s opposition to adoptions by LGBT couples also took a direct hit. It was also noted that the Supreme Court did not protect the rights of transgender persons to have their identities respected in birth and travel documents.

Reighben Labilles of the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch highlighted the long string of murders and violence committed against LGBT Filipinos and the lack of comprehensive action of the Philippine National Police to solve these crimes.

Germaine Trittle Leonin, founding president of R-Rights, said the LGBT civil society report also aired the gross lack of health care services to the sector. The report lamented the tragedy that intersexed Filipino infants face later in life when their true sexuality comes in conflict with the sex that midwives and doctors assign to them. Also included in the shopping list of medical horrors is the infamous video scandal inflicted by a government hospital in Cebu on a gay patient.

The ProGay report zeroed in on the discrimination suffered by LGBT students in schools and lesbian workers in farms and factories. ProGay decried the violent use of pellet guns against transgender women in Cebu City.

The reports made a list of recommendations that the activists are putting forward to the government, such as:

  • define and prosecute hate crimes targeting LGBT people and provide victims with access to courts
  • develop educational programs for health workers regarding sexual orientation and gender identity
  • provide support to transgender persons in surgery, health care costs, and mental health care management in relation to transitioning to the preferred sex
  • equalize the rules of the Department of Social Welfare and Development for adoption by LGBT couples
  • include LGBT issues and projects in national and local Gender and Development (GAD) desks and offices
  • compel schools to respect free expression of gender and dress by LGBT students, and actively prevent bullying by other students and faculty
  • include LGBT rights and the Yogyakarta principles in the mandate of the Presidential Human Rights Commission and the National Human Rights Action Plan

Oscar Atadero, the human rights documentor for ProGay, explained that the council will draft a list of recommendations called the Concluding Observations, which the global community expects the Philippine government to accept as its obligations to implement in order to address shortcomings in implementing human rights conventions. ###

Contact: Reighben Labilles 09179714096 / Germaine Trittle Leonin 09277852892 / Oscar Atadero 09995331065

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