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Friday, July 6, 2012

Issue: LGBT Rights in the Philippines

LGBT is an initialism that collectively refers to the "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender" community. In use since the 1990s, the term "LGBT" is an adaptation of the initialism "LGB", which itself started replacing the phrase "gay community" beginning in the mid-to-late 1980s, which many within the community in question felt did not accurately represent all those to whom it referred.The initialism has become mainstream as a self-designation and has been adopted by the majority "sexuality and gender identity-based" community centers and media in the United States and some other English-speaking countries.

The term LGBT is intended to emphasize a diversity of "sexuality and gender identity-based cultures" and is sometimes used to refer to anyone who is non-heterosexual or cisgender instead of exclusively to people who are homosexual, bisexual, or transgender.To recognize this inclusion, a popular variant adds the letter Q for those who identify as queer and/or are questioning their sexual identity as "LGBTQ", recorded since 1996.


Many variants exist including variations that merely change the order of the letters; LGBT or GLBT are the most common terms and the ones most frequently seen in current usage. Although identical in meaning, "LGBT" may have a more feminist connotation than "GLBT" as it places the "L" (for "lesbian") first. When not inclusive of transgender people it is sometimes shortened to LGB. LGBT may also include additional "Q"s for "queer" or "questioning" (sometimes abbreviated with a question mark and sometimes used to mean anybody not literally L, G, B or T) which can then look like e.g., "LGBTQ" or "LGBTQQ".

Other variants may add:
  • "U" for "unsure"
  • "C" for "curious"
  • "I" for "intersex"
  • "T" for "transsexual" or "transvestite"
  • "TS", or "2" for "Two‐Spirit" persons; 
  • "SA" for "straight allies"
  • "A" for "asexual.
  • "P" for "pansexual" or "polyamorous"
  • "H" for "HIV-affected"
"SGL" (i.e. "same gender loving") is sometimes favored among black Americans as a way of distinguishing themselves from what they regard as white-dominated LGBT communities."MSM" (er.g. "men who have sex with men") is clinically used to describe men who have sex with other men without referring to their sexual orientation.

LGBT Culture in the Philippines

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the Philippines have a distinctive culture but limited legal rights. Gays and lesbians are generally tolerated, if not accepted, within Filipino society, but there is still widespread discrimination. The most visible members of the Filipino LGBT culture, the Bakla, are a distinct group in the Philippines.

According to the 2002 Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey, 11% of sexually active Filipinos between the ages of 15 and 24 have had sex with someone of the same sex.

Filipino poet and critic Lilia Quindoza Santiago has speculated that Filipino culture may have a more flexible concept of gender because kasarian, the Tagalog word for "gender", is defined in less binary terms than the English word gender. Kasarian means "kind, species, or genus". The English word gender originally also meant "kind"

A bakla is a gay man who displays feminine mannerisms, dresses as a women, or identifies as a woman. The term itself is not the equivalent of the English term "gay", but bakla are the most culturally visible subset of gay men in the Philippines. They are often considered a third gender, embodying femaleness (pagkababae) in a male body. The term bakla is sometimes used in a derogatory sense, although bakla people have largely embraced it.

Bakla individuals are socially and economically integrated into Filipino society and are considered an important part of society. The stereotype of a bakla is a parlorista, a cross-dresser who works in a beauty salon. Miss Gay Philippines is a beauty pageant for bakla.

LGBT Rights in the Philippines

LGBT citizens may face different social attitudes and legal challenges than heterosexual citizens. Tolerance for LGBT people has increased over the years due to greater education about sexual orientation and gender identity issues and the growing visibility and political activism of the LGBT community Same-sex marriages are not legally recognized and the LGBT community is not protected by any civil rights laws.

Non-commercial, homosexual relations between consenting adults in private are not a crime. Although sexual conduct or affection that occurs in public may be subject to the "grave scandal" prohibition in Article 200 of the Revised Penal Code. The universal age of consent is set at 12, but contacts with minors (under 18) are an offense if the minor consents to the act for money, gain or any other remuneration or as the result of an influence of any adult person.

Sexual orientation or religion does not exempt citizens from CAT, although some reports do suggest that people who are openly gay in this high school curriculum are harassed. On 3 March 2009, the Philippines announced that it was lifting its ban on allowing openly gay and bisexual men and women from enlisting and serving in the Philippine Armed Services.
The Philippines does not offer any legal recognition to same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnership benefits.

In 1998, Senators Marcelo B. Fernan and Miriam Defensor Santiago submitted a series of four bills that barred recognition of marriage involving transgender individuals, contracted in the Philippines or abroad, and bar recognition of marriages or domestic partnership between two people of the same biological sex contracted in countries that legally recognize such relationships.

Since 2006, three anti-same sex marriage bills have been introduced and are pending before the Senate and Congress. In early 2011, Rep. Rene Relampagos of Bohol filed a bill to amend Article 26 of the Philippine Family Code, to prohibit "forbidden marriages." Specifically, this seeks to bar the Philippine state from recognizing same-sex marriages contracted overseas. The bill is in committee

Political Concerns

The Akbayan Citizens' Action Party was the first Philippine political party to integrate LGBT rights into its party platform in the 1990s, although they are a minor political party. A major political opponent of LGBT rights legislation has been Congressman Bienvenido Abante (6th district, Manila) of the ruling conservative Lakas-CMD party.  Rodolfo Biazon and his son Ruffy Biazon along with Miriam Santiago are the most vocal opponents of same sex marriage in the Philippines. They have filed bills in the Senate and Congress in 2006 that would ban recognition of such marriage, even if those marriages were performed in other countries. As of 2009 the bills are stalled.

The administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was recently called "not just gender insensitive, but gender-dead" by Akbayan Party representative Risa Hontiveros. Rep. Hontiveros also said that the absence of any policy protecting the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender betrays the government’s homophobia. “This homophobic government treats LGBTs as second-class citizens,” she said.

Philippines did not sign the United Nations declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, which condemns violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The Ang Ladlad is a new progressive political party, with a primary agenda of combating discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

On 11 November 2009, the Philippine Commission on Elections(COMELEC) denied the Filipino LGBT political party Ang Ladlad's petition to be allowed to run in the May 2010 elections, on the grounds of "immorality’. In the 2007 elections, Ang Ladlad was previously disqualified for failing to prove they had nationwide membership. On 8 April 2010, the Supreme Court of the Philippines reversed the ruling of COMELEC and allowed Ang Ladlad to join the May 2010 elections.


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