Groups push for bill vs. LGBT discrimination

It’s not fun to be “gay” in the Philippines.

This is what Filipino gay groups said as they call on the government of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to pass an Anti-Discriminatory Bill.

Jonas Bagas, executive director of TLF Share Collective, said discrimination against members of the third sex keep them from enjoying economic gains the country has achieved in the last few months.

“While some members of the society are reaping the gains of the Aquino administration, many Filipinos are still excluded because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Bagas said.

“Unfortunately, the ‘Daang  Matuwid’ is paved with stigma and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs),” he added.

Bagas also complained that LGBTs are having a hard time accessing services that can save lives from the deadly HIV due to homophobia.

He warned the attitude against LGBTs, who make up 80 percent of new HIV victims in the country, could eventually negate the achievements of the Aquino administration.

“Even if we increase our HIV prevention programs, the community will not access them due to fears of discrimination and abuse,” Bagas said.

Protection, not discrimination, is what the LGBT community needs in the Philippines, said Cris Lopera, head of gay group Shine from Central Mindanao.

“It’s about time we ensure basic fairness and equal protection for LGBTs. Without protection, access to opportunities being provided by the Aquino administration will not be even,” Lopera said.

“The community will be excluded,” he added in a forum that gathered officials to stop gay discrimination in the government and community on Thursday.

Lopera then urged lawmakers and senators to pass the Anti-Discriminatory Bill, which they think would “give birth to human rights-centric and effective interventions” against gay discrimination.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat and Dinagat Island Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao both filed a bill against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and religion in the new 16th Congress.

The bills aim to eliminate different kinds of discrimination and abuse including people who belong to the third sex.

“The passage of anti-discrimination measures is what we need, not discrimination, to stop the spread of HIV,” Lopera said.

“The more we discriminate LGBTs, the greater the chances for the epidemic to continue to accelerate,” he added.

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