Philippines: House Committee Approves Bill

UPDATE

On December 5, the Committee on Civil, Political, and Human Rights of the House of Representatives in the Philippines approved "in principle" House Bill (HB) 2784, a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill written in collaboration with lesbian and gay community activists. Following the recommendations of these activists, the Committee also approved two significant revisions to the bill: the inclusion of protections on the basis of not only sexual orientation but also gender identity, and the recognition of violations on the basis of both perceived and actual identity. IGLHRC forwards the following update and message of appreciation from the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network (LAGABLAB), a coalition of 12 community organizations--and will continue to monitor the progress of this bill and support the ongoing campaign for its passage.

FORWARDED MESSAGE FROM LAGABLAB

This is so far the most meaningful celebration of the Human Rights Week for Filipino lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTs).

Recently, the Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives approved "in principle" what could be the first legislative measure on LGBT human rights in the country. H.B. 2784, more popularly known as the Anti-Discrimination Bill, seeks to criminalize discriminatory practices and policies against Filipino homosexuals. Such discriminatory offenses include policies of some schools that prohibit the admission of gay applicants and the use of homosexuality as a cause or reason for the dismissal of lesbian and gay employees. It also intends to punish medical institutions and commercial establishments that refuse or maltreat Filipino homosexuals.

The Anti-Discrimination Bill is authored by Akbayan party Representative Loretta Ann Rosales and was formulated after a series of innovative dialogues with LAGABLAB, or the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network. LAGABLAB is the largest network of LGBT groups in the Philippines and has actively campaigned against discrimination, along with Amnesty International - Pilipinas, an international human rights non-governmental organization (NGO).

In a public hearing held last December 5, 2001, members of the Committee on Human Rights unanimously endorsed the bill and concurred that the proposed legislation must be passed during this term. The bill was first filed during the 11th Congress by Rep. Rosales and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago. To date, the bill has no counterpart in the Senate.

The Anti-Discrimination Bill also received support from international advocates of lesbian and gay human rights. In a press release, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Right Commission, an international NGO, urged the Philippine Congress to pass the bill and put the Philippines in "the rapidly growing ranks of countries around the world--including South Africa, Fiji, Brazil, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Israel, and Costa Rica--that recognize the importance of national-level anti-discrimination legislation in the fulfillment of international human rights standards."

Last September, IGLHRC, Amnesty International Pilipinas, and LAGABLAB launched an international campaign that drew the attention and support of international LGBT human rights activists for passage of the bill. Overseas Filipino organizations, members of the parliament from various countries, and supportive individuals

FURTHER INFORMATION

LAGABLAB can be contacted by e-mail at: kagandax@yahoo.com