Human Rights Violations on the Basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Homosexuality in the Philippines

Widespread and systematic human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and homosexuality persist in the Philippines. The arrests, harassment, and discrimination faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the Philippines demonstrate the urgent need for the Government of the Philippines to act.

Though an Anti-Discrimination bill was first introduced to Congress twelve years, the Philippines does not have Anti-Discrimination legislation. The State also fails to address the overwhelming amount of hate crimes and murders of LGBT individuals in the Philippines and the number of hate crimes against LGBT people in the Philippines is increasing.

State-actor violence against LGBT Filipinos is pervasive. Police raids on LGBT venues occur regularly and without warrants. During these raids, police regularly illegally detain, verbally abuse and extort money from clients. Police will also frequently charge LGBT individuals with violating the “Public scandal” provision of the Revised Penal Code which is a broadly worded public morality law discriminatorily applied against the LGBT community.

There are glaring instances of discrimination, marginalization and exclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity issues from various legislative bills. The President of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, removed sexual orientation as a protected category from a congressional bill on sexual and reproductive health after after Congress attempted to include it. The Philippines also intends to pass legislation that will make changing one’s first name and sex on a birth certificate illegal for transsexual and intersex individuals.

The State has also been responsible for inciting homophobia. In January 2012 during the Philippine National AIDS Council plenary meeting, the Philippine Secretary of Health Enrique Ona stated that “parents should rein in their homosexual children and get them tested” to address the rapid rise of HIV cases in the country; his statements only contributing to a general ignorance and hostility toward LGBT people already pervasive within the country.

LGBT persons are entitled to their full rights under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR.) In order to protect access and enjoyment of these rights the Government of the Philippines must take positive steps to repeal discriminatory laws and combat violence targeted at LGBT individuals. There is urgent need for the Committee to take appropriate action to ensure LGBT people can enjoy the rights within the Convention to which they are entitled.

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