Let’s face it. Despite the Pope’s declaration that gay people should not be marginalized but should be integrated into society, many gays still experience discrimination in Catholic schools.
Despite various workplaces, issuing statements that they do not condone discrimination against gay people, there are still many anti-gay biases and practices that are committed to their detriment.
Despite My Husband’s Lover being perhaps the most popular teleserye on local TV these days, our society’s acceptance of gays is still very much largely conditional and categorical.
The Commission on Human Rights recently said it will start systematically documenting anti-gay hate crimes, perhaps in acknowledgement that there have been several alarming incidents, particularly involving violence against homosexual males.
Indeed, most hate crimes against homosexuals that have been reported in the local news involve violence, in the same manner that most discrimination cases that have been reported are gender-based, or motivated by sexual orientation.
I suspect though that bigger numbers of both cases have not been reported.
It’s an alarming reality that lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered (LGBT is supposedly the politically correct term) Filipinos know all too well and that the government can no longer ignore.
This is why I support the CHR’s move because documenting cases will actually encourage more people to report these incidents.
The LGBT community knows there has been a big problem with violence against it for years, which must be addressed by the government through policies and laws.
This alarming trend of discrimination begins in schools. How many anti-gay incidents have you personally seen in classrooms and school corridors? How did the school or the teachers deal with them?
These kinds of sexual discrimination continue in workplaces because our society as a whole, though we have become more comfortable with public displays of homosexuality, have not truly demonstrated a greater acceptance of the LGBT community through actual practice, in our laws, in our corporate and organizational cultures, and what have you.
The likes of Vice Ganda, Charice, Aiza may have paved the way for LGBTs to be more publicly visible than they had been before, freer to be “out” in society, but like I said, the public’s acceptance is still largely conditional.
This is why I was disappointed when the Party-list group Ang Ladlad, which was seeking to represent the LGBT community in Congress, failed to win a seat in the House, after it got only 0.37% of the vote. (A Party-list group needs at least 2% or more than 500,000 votes to get a seat under the Party-list system.)
Ang Ladlad, which literally means “The Coming Out” supposedly had a ready constituency of at least four million gay voters, excluding sympathizers to their cause. I wonder what happened to their voters?
It’s a pity because Ang Ladlad is advocating for equal rights for the LGBT community and its representation in Congress would have been very helpful in helping end legal discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Ang Ladlad’s singular advocacy is having the anti-discrimination bill enacted into law. The bill, which seeks to specifically protect LGBT people, has been languishing in Congress for 12 years.
Great strides have been made toward fighting for equal rights for women in society and there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be similar laws enacted in behalf of the LGBT community, which, like I said, continues to face great discrimination especially in workplaces.
The LGBT community often finds itself “outside the kulambo” of the so-called straight establishment.
There is clearly a need for a Party-list group to be a force of change in Congress for the LGBT community, one that would be effective in curbing discrimination and gaining acceptance for it.
Ang Ladlad certainly has the courage to do that, but it sadly doesn’t have the resources or the national organization to win.
Ateneo Professor Danton Remoto, founder of Ang Ladlad, once said that if only the gays in Congress would come out of the closet and openly declare their support for the LGBT community, there would be no need for Ang Ladlad to run.
Many political candidates strategically court the gay vote. Of course, only very few of them, when they win, go on to fulfill their promises to the LGBT community.
Anyway, all is not lost for Ang Ladlad. They can spend the next three years expanding public support, chipping away at the anti-gay bias of the straight establishment, and building its national membership.
There will be another time, another election to try again. Perhaps victory would not be so elusive next time.