Suspension of Disbelief

Archive for April 2012

Ladlad adopts new ‘open mind, open heart’ campaign slogan

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 21 April 2012

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“BUKAS ISIP, BUKAS PUSO,” the new campaign slogan of Ladlad partylist, envisions a society or country that has an open mind and open heart.

Junking the old slogan “Pantay na Karapatan Para sa Lahat (Equal Rights for All),” Ladlad’s plan for the coming 2013 elections is to be “more inclusive” in its campaigns and reachable whether a person is part of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) sector or not.

“We have to explain our platforms, mission and vision not just to LGBT Filipinos but to our heterosexual supporters as well, like our parents, brothers and sisters, friends, officemates, neighbors and classmates,” Ladlad former chair Bemz Benedito explained.

In line with this new campaign strategy, Ladlad will conduct several forums and gatherings to be able to reach out to the general public.  Ladlad (a Filipino term that means to come out)  was recognized by the Supreme Court as a legitimate LGBT political party in the Philippines in the 2010 elections.

“Our campaign will differ in many ways from the 2010 elections,” Benedito said. “I am optimistic that we will win three seats in the coming elections. That is our goal and we will claim it!”

Ladlad, revealed the following four platforms it wants to pursue if it wins a seat in Congress:

  1. Re-filing of the Anti-Discrimination Bill that gives LGBT Filipinos equal opportunities in employment and equal treatment in schools, hospitals, restaurants, hotels, entertainment centers, and government offices.
  2. Re-filing of the bill to repeal the Anti-Vagrancy Law that some unscrupulous policemen use to extort bribes from gay men without ID cards.
  3. Setting up of micro-finance and livelihood projects for poor and handicapped LGBT Filipinos.
  4. Setting up of centers for Golden Gays, as well as young ones driven out of their homes. The centers will also offer legal aid and counselling, as well as information about LGBT issues, HIV-AIDS, and reproductive health.

It believes that the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill, which has been pending in Congress for more than 10 years now, will address the root of all LGBT-related problems by ensuring that their rights would be recognized and protected by the state and society.

According to Ladlad, the bill reflects the yearning of many LGBT Filipinos to be treated equally and to be judged not by their sexual orientation or gender identity but by their capabilities, skills, integrity and dignity.

“Hopefully, the passage (of the Anti Discrimination Bill) could translate to acceptance of LGBT Filipinos in society, because tolerance, which is our present state now, doesn’t parallel to equality of opportunities and of the law.” Benedito said.

Benedito, a transgender woman from Abra who has been an LGBT rights advocate for nine years and a master’s degree holder in Sociology at the Ateneo de Manila University, is Ladlad’s first nominee for the 2013 elections.

Ladlad’s other nominees are: lawyer Germain Leonin, a lesbian and founding president of Rainbow Rights Project; lawyer Raymond Alikpala, a gay man and book author; and Pidot Villocino, a gay man who works for the Integrated Gender and Development Division of Davao City.

These Congressional nominees, who will represent the LGBT Filipinos in the 16th Congress next year, were chosen at Ladlad’s February 18, 2012 national convention.

Ladlad also elected a new Board of Trustees, namely: Danton Remoto of TV5, Ladlad media relations officer Dexter Macaldo, Rev. Ceejay Agbayani of Metropolitan Community Church-Quezon City, Ivanka Custodio of Lesbian Activism Project, Rica Paras and Santy Layno of the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines (STRAP).

Appointed officers by the board were: Remoto, chairman; Edmond Osorio, vice chairman; Ivy Krystel Hapitan, secretary; and Raffy Aquino, treasurer.

“We are more prepared now in terms of time, logistics, resources, network building and membership drives,” Benedito said. “Unlike 2010, we were faced with so many challenges in terms of our accreditation and legality as a sectoral organization.”

To finance their rigorous election campaign, the partylist will depend on dues collected from their members estimated at more that 50,000, and from donations of their members, friends and supporters. The party is also exploring the possibility of endorsing some senatorial wannabes, provided that they are LGBT rights advocates willing to carry the platforms of the party.

“If elected, our first step is to consult our constituents and chapters to assess what we learned in the whole process of the campaign,” Benedito said. “It’s always a necessity to go back to your members and coordinators in every step because we are the voice of every individual, who yearns to be heard and understood.”

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

 

 

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Gay, deaf and mute: ‘no less than the trees and the stars they have a right to be here’

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VERA Files and Yahoo Philippines | 31 March 2012

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons with disabilities (LGBT PWDs) experience double discrimination in their daily life.

Because of the many challenges they face, they have come to be known as the “marginalized within the marginalized” sector of society.

“We are considered abnormal by people…They mock us when we try to communicate,” according to a deaf gay participant at the recent “Deaf Talks: A Forum for Deaf LGBT’s on Human Rights and HIV.”

The forum was organized by Rainbow Rights Philippines, Outrage Magazine and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) for the benefit of Rainbow Deaf Philippines, a Filipino LGBT organization for persons with hearing and speech impairment.

Founder and president of Deaf Rainbow Philippines Bibo Lee Perey shared the experiences and challenges PWDs face everyday in the community, particularly  when they look for work, go malling or simply in search of a partner in life.

“When we look for work, it’s our disability they will focus on,” he shared. “Or in social networking sites, they would mock us because we have wrong grammar.”

With the help of a sign language interpreter, members of Rainbow Deaf Philippines communicated their concerns and questions to CHR officials who were part of the forum.

CHR Executive Director Jake Meija assured forum participants that the government is doing everything to help alleviate their sad plight, such as advocating a legislation for LGBT PWDs.

“Give us a recommendation on what laws should be passed that will benefit and improve your situation, what you want to add, and what you want to be amended and we will help you push it,” CHR Director for Assistance and Visitorial Office Renante Basas urged the forum delegates.

There are several pending bills in the Senate that focus on the needs of the PWDs, such as the following:

  • SBN 617, entitled “An act providing for a special polling place for the disabled and elderly,” introduced by Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada.
  • SBN 2999, entitled “An act ensuring the accessibility of the electoral processes to persons with disabilities (PWDs) and Senior Citizens with disabilities (SCWDs),” introduced by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
  • SBN 3145, entitled “An act expanding the positions reserved for persons with disability, amending for the purpose Republic Act No. 7277, as amended, otherwise known as the magna carta for persons with disability,” introduced by Sen. Antonio Trillanes.
  • SBN 2855, entitled “An act providing additional relief to families with dependents, supporting aging parents and disabled persons,” introduced by Senators Trillanes, Ralph Recto, Manny Villar and Manuel “Lito” Lapid.

The CHR is also calling for a convention with LGBT PWDs and other LGBT organizations like Rainbow Rights Philippines and Outrage Magazine to discuss and address the problems they are facing.

“The government should give more attention to PWDs,”  Meija added. “You have to keep in mind that you are not a charity case. Filipinos, regardless of their gender and their disabilities, should enjoy and have the same equal rights as everyone else.”

He said the government should ensure that  the rights of PWDs are respected and that they are consulted in decision-making processes that concern them.

“Being an LGBT PWD is not a disability,” Mejia said. “You need to remember that you have the same rights as everyone else. You need to remember that everyday you need to defend your rights.”

Some 30 deaf participants nodded, raised and shook their hands (their sign for clapping), as they read the sign interpretation of what Meija said.

According to a research conducted by the CHR, there are eight million PWDs in the Philippines who suffer from  “relative invisibility” and tended to be viewed as “objects” of protection, treatment and assistance rather than subjects of rights.

Simply put, PWDs in the country experience being denied equal access to basic rights and fundamental freedoms and are being refused participation in the community, based on reports reaching the CHR.

“We should work with them as equal partners in developing society and not treat them as helpless recipients of assistance from others,” according to Germaine Trittle Leonin, founding president of Rainbow Rights.

Michael David dela Cruz and John Ryan Mendoza of Outrage Magazine, the only LGBT magazine in the Philippines, gave a lecture on HIV/AIDS.

“Our activities aim to provide some safe space for LGBT disadvantaged sectors,” Oscar Atadero, program manager of Rainbow Rights, said. “We partner with different organizations like CHR to address the concerns of neglected LGBT sectors, the marginalized within the marginalized.”

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)

 

 

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