Suspension of Disbelief

Discrimination in focus

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Outrage Magazine | 18 November 2012

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They have been called immoral by a COMELEC commissioner, nakakadiri by a Catholic bishop, and salot sa lipunan by  corrupt people we address as “honorable”.

They are the agents who attend to your concerns in call centers, they are the beauticians who makes sure you’re properly groomed every time you visit the salon, they are the doctors and lawyers who attend to your serious concerns. They are your friends, classmates, work mates and family members. They are the people you see everyday.

They are the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community (LGBTs).

And behind their flamboyant and jolly personalities lie stories they may want to forget and wish never happened.

BIG PICTURE

There have been several recorded cases all over the Philippines on the countless human rights violations against the LGBTs, all of them directly violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations.  Based on the research and studies made by different individuals and organizations, violations of documented cases fall under the following articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

  • Article 1, which states that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. That they are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
  • Article 3, which states that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security.
  • Article 5, which states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Article 7, which states that all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to any equal protection of law. That all are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

In Metro Manila alone, there already are reports of countless instances of human rights violations committed against LGBTs.

Nicole is a 26-year old transgender. She didn’t finish college, her family didn’t have enough money for her to continue. A close friend of hers gave a contact with the call center agency she was employed in and asked Nicole to try to apply.  She passed the exam and the interviews, she trained for three months. She got good reviews from her team leader, and her colleagues admired her patience when attending to calls. Her evaluations were satisfactory.

But before her fourth month in the company started, one Monday morning, Nicole got a message from the account supervisor to meet him at exactly 1:00 PM in his office. Wearing her best dress, she painted her lips red and topped it with gloss; she entered their building perky, smiling at everyone. She thought that this was the day that her supervisor will ask her to become a regular employee.

Instead, Nicole was requested not come to work the next day or ever again. According to the account supervisor, their company has a good reputation and was afraid to gamble it by hiring a “ladyboy”, and even though she was qualified for the job, the company’s reputation is far important than her employment.

Months after, Nicole got a job in a television show as an assistant of the executive producer. She still feels insulted with what happened to her in the call center.

Nicole is one of those who were treated differently by a company who gives unequal opportunities to its applicants.

There’s a lesbian manager of a pizza parlor, labelled scandalous and teased the next day after her lesbian partner picked her up after work.

There are stereotyped occupations where LGBTs are mostly identified with. For gay men, these include beauticians, fashion designers or a showbiz personalities; for lesbians, security guards, janitors or tricycle drivers; and for transgenders, stand-up comedians, call center agents, or working in a salon.

And when it comes to job interviews and accomplishing their pre-employment requirements, the focus to LGBTs has been their sexual orientation or their sexual identit,y instead of how qualified they are for the job they’re applying for.

For some companies, their immorality clauses in their contract seem to subject the LGBTs to a “higher” standard of conduct. If you’re an openly gay or lesbian, many view it as scandalous and shameful.

Sadly, based on reports, no one considers a transgender not being accepted in a call center position, or the negative reaction of colleagues to their lesbian manager fetched by her partner after work as forms of discrimination. They consider it as inappropriate and abnormal, but never as a form of discrimination.

In schools, LGBTs who are teachers and professors are also being treated differently. For a gay high school teacher, he is considered as a “threat” to the male students, as a sexual predator. That if there’s a possibility or a chance, he will harass or offer indecent proposals to the male students in exchange for a better grade or just for fun.

A gay high school teacher, a lesbian PE teacher and a gay librarian were terminated in the schools that employed them, their contracts not renewed, and they were asked to leave their schools. These are actual incidents that have been recorded by several LGBT groups in the Philippines.

Hender Gercio, a European Languages student in UP Diliman and a transgender, experienced transphobia in one of her classes. Her professor, Del Corro, in Advanced Spoken French, refused to identify her as a female while in class. Del Corro admitted that she did not feel comfortable addressing Gercio as female in class, saying that she is a Christian and that it is against her religious beliefs. She explained to Gercio that she cannot separate her Christian beliefs to her duties as a professor. Del Corro continued to explain to Gercio that being homosexual is a sin and that is the reason why she cannot identify her as female.

WAY OUT

The pending passage of Anti-Discrimination Act of 2011 promises that it will end the discrimination and indifference the LGBTs are facing. But in a recent update on the status of the bill, it seems like the inclusion of the LGBT provisions might not be able to see the light of the day.

Coco Quisumbing of the Commission on Human Rights said that one of the main reasons why the bill hasn’t moved forward is because some Representatives and Senators, like Sen. Vicente Sotto, is reconsidering to update the House version of the bill with the exclusion of the LGBT provisions.

The Congress is just waiting for the Senate if they will still present their version of the bill.

 

(Outrage Magazine remains the only publication for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines.)

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