MANILA -- LGBT advocates are seething with rage after discovering that a bill filed in Senate was going to block the efforts of transgendered Filipinos to achieve the right to legally change their genders according to their true identity and expression.
Senators Francis Escudero and Antonio Trillanes IV filed Senate Bill 3133 (download a copy at http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/1272410
However, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists are worried and angry that certain provisions could be tantamount to making it even more difficult for transgendered persons to legally change their genders. They are also incensed that Escudero, who was publicly campaigning for LGBT equality in his electoral campaigns, drafted the bill.
Section 3 of the SB 3133 states: "Nor shall any entry involving change of gender corrected except if the petition is accompanied by a certification issued by an accredited government physician attesting to the fact that the petitioner has not undergone sex change or sex transplant."
"This is a truly disgusting slap on us transgenders by the government and especially Senator Escudero who we mistook for being a champion of the marginalized sectors like the LGBT!" said Goya Candelario, spokesperson of the militant gay movement Progressive Organization of Gays (ProGay Philippines).
According to ProGay, the bill now grants the medical establishment and the civil registry bureacracy almost absolute powers to determine if transgenders applying for a gender change can ever get to practice their rights to their own gender. The court system, including the Supreme Court, have made harsh rulings in the last ten years dismissing legal applications by transgenders to change their birth certificates, passports and all other IDs.
ProGay said that it was doubly ironic that the bill was filed with the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, because according to the group, the measure violates human rights on several levels.
"These transphobic medics perform unethical medical procedures on LGBT. So now people, whether transexual or not, can be exposed to even more invasive and costly medical exams that are not scientific anyway. Testing will impose more financial burdens and open the door to more opportunities for corruption and unethical practices. And soon all government agencies will want to have gender testing for their services and documents. The horrors will never stop," Candelario added.
The group said gender testing counters the recommendations it submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva for the second Universal Periodic Review of the Philippine republic's human rights violations in May this year. Another LGBT human rights group, the Rainbow Rights Project, has recommended in another human rights report to the Council that the government remove all legal impediments to providing transgenders fast, legal and effective means to change their genders in identity documents.
ProGay said that the bill goes against international human rights instruments, such as the Yogyakarta Principle No. 19 that protects the rights of transexuals to full expression of identity or personhood. It wants the provision changed to make it easier for transgenders to apply for gender identity change.
ProGay demanded the Senate to scrap SB 3133 and instead immediately pass the Antidiscrimination Bill protecting sexual orientation and gender identity in time for the International Women's Day on March 8. Advocates have been pushing for a counterpart bill in the House of Representatives, House Bill 1483 penned by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino since 2010 but the impeachment proceedings and opposition by the Roman Catholic bishops has slowed down the progress of the bill.
"We are advising Senator Chiz to be true to his grandstanding that he is for LGBT rights by junking anti-transgender provisions and instead champion the Antidiscrimination Bill, or he loses our support," Candelario said.