Filipino lawmaker urges colleagues to fight homophobia

Filipino lawmaker urges colleagues to fight homophobia

Manila : Philippines | May 16, 2012 at 1:04 AM PDT
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By Gerry Albert Corpuz, anchor, all voices. com

MANILA, Philippines- (2nd Update) Philippine lawmaker Rep. Teddy Casino of party list group Bayan Muna (People First), a staunch supporter of LGBT concerns in this predominantly Catholic nation of over 100 million people yesterday urged his closet gay and lesbian colleagues in the House of Representatives to come in the open and fight all forms of discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender.

In his privilege speech supported by LGBT communities in the country, the progressive member of the PH parliament said his colleagues whether they are straight, gays, lesbians, transgenders or bisexuals should lead the elimination of all forms of discrimination in aid of legislation.

" I rise on a matter of personal and collective privilege to take up the cause of one of our marginalized and discriminated sectors who are not officially represented in this Congress - our gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons," said Casino, one of the advocates of LGBT rights in and out of the House of Representatives.

The Bayan Muna leader added: "Let me start with a question: is there any congressman in this august chamber who will openly declare that he is gay? Is there a congresswoman in this room who will admit she is lesbian?"

Casino, a father of two sons and a straight guy, admitted it difficult it is to deal with the issue of homosexuality in the Philippines.

The activist solon noted that on May 17, 1990, the global community of people declared the day as International Day Against Homophobia or IDAHO. Rep. Casino said, due to protest, the World Health Organization (WHO) erased homosexuality in the list of mental disorder. Before this, gays and lesbian communities were treated as crazy people.

"I wish to make clear that exposing a lawmaker’s sexuality is not the point of this privilege speech. That is not the expose our group wishes to expose to the public," said Casino.

"That is why I am asking to let you feel that everyone of us here the common reactin of any Filipino whether he or she is a congress perosn or ordinary citizen on the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity," he said.

Whether we admit it or not, the LGBT phenomenon has put many a Filipino in a quandary. It has even placed some Filipinos in a state of agitation.

According to Rep. Casino, many Filipinos do not really want to talk seriously about this issue. He said in many occasions, his officed had asked a number of people regarding their views on LGBT and their reply varies from silence, gigles and some crack jokes.

Rep. Casino said he did not find this surprising, saying it has been the observation, too, of some sociologists, that Filipinos, by nature, tend to avoid confrontations.

The Bayan Muna lawmaker has filed House Bill 4653 – An Act Declaring May 17 of Every Year as the National Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia to promote respect for gay rights.

Let me be frank and honest about this. Some of my well-meaning friends have advised me to steer clear of the LGBT issue. They said the LGBT tag was “Kiss of Death” or “Election Suicide” for those running for elective posts in the country.

"Maybe it would make our lives easier as lawmakers, if we don’t tangle with issues with deep religious and moral underpinnings, especially in view of the fact that next year is an election year.

Casino cited an online study on gay killings conducted by the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch showed 97 cases of gays violently killed from 1997 to June 2011, alone.

The Department of Health has sounded the alarm over the sudden rise in number of HIV and AIDS cases in the country. Some 274 new cases were recorded last February and the DOH said this represented a 72 percent rise, compared to the 159 cases reported in February 2011.

This DOH announcement, released last March 22, also said that majority of the cases reported sexual contact as the mode of transmission and that males having sex with other males was the predominant type of sexual transmission, corresponding to 87 percent of the reported cases.

"And to my mind, even the most conservative among us would agree to a discussion on ways to address LGBT concerns, rather than create a great divide where one side is directly opposed to the other.

As lawmakers, it behooves us to be the vanguard of consensus-building among our people. As lawmakers, we should also be peacemakers, the harbingers of unity and understanding, never of discord," said Casino.

The Bayan Muna solon noted in the United States, Pres. Barack Obama has openly supported same sex marriages, while billionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump, owner of the Miss Universe franchise, has officially allowed transgenders to participate in all franchise contests of the Ms. Universe pageant.

"And this may come as a surprise to many, but really, transgenders have been allowed to compete in the Olympics since 2004.

I do not necessarily agree with Pres. Obama or Mr. Trump. I think the issue of same sex unions is a very complex issue that requires further dialogue and understanding.

Yet the sad reality is that here in our country, LGBTs are still being discriminated in our workplaces, schools and communities. Gays are being assaulted and killed for being gay.

Persons with HIV, especially gays are being isolated and ostracized. Transgenders are being denied entry in some places because they don’t dress the part.

Casino said in the Philippines, gay marriage is not a major problem among members of the LGBT communities. He said many LGBTs are having a hard time getting jobs, others were not sent by their parents to school, many are also victims of all time bullying based on anti-gay sentiments and LGBTs are often described as abnormal persons.

In his speech, Rep. Casino reiterated that Filipino nation needs a common ground, a working consensus on LGBT concerns. But this cannot be achieved if one or the other resorts to namecalling or falls back on our traditional biases and fears. Martin Luther King who said that “a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder for consensus.” he added

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A member of the leftist political party Bayan Muna has been killed in a suspected politically motivated murder
A member of the leftist political party Bayan Muna has been killed in a suspected politically motivated murder
GerryAlbert is based in Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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