Lgbt: Political Struggles for Acceptance
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If being a human has own rights, does it mean that this right could be possibly limited if not eliminated because of societal and religious discrimination? Has this so called “Third Sex” considered as alien by the people and don’t have equal rights in the political world before and even today? Has this claim of sexuality successfully evolved today the same with the heterosexual persons?
This paper explains what happened historically, socially and politically about the LGBT to be accepted by the society and in the policy making body of the Philippines. It suggested the expression and stand of the LGBTs on the Pre-colonial days and during the Spanish Era. What influenced them on deciding to break their silence and heed their clamors not just social but political in terms of gender equality, claiming their rights and on the government and how their struggles affected the country. This paper also discussed how they politically evolved and are socially accepted.
Third-Genders on the Pre-Colonial Days
Neil Garcia, a prominent gay historian agrees that no specific written reports were recorded during the Spanish colonial days. However, he relied on oral accounts that need further studies about the “third genders” at that time. Women were revered by the society. They were strong in terms of power because they were priestesses and matriarchs.
Having the authority to divorce their husband if they like, choose the name of their children, accumulate wealth and owned properties. With that, the so called “somewhat-women” also have the distinction of being highly regarded. They were called as “bayoguin (a bamboo specie) asog, bido, and binabae”. They transformed themselves by donning female’s dress and acting as women, thus they were cross-dressers and gender-crossers. They had crossed the male and female gender lines.
Like women’s reputation, sex-crossers were also “babaylans” and “catalonans” who healed sicknesses a medium that intermediates the world and the spirits. They were highly consultants by the people, respected leaders and a figure of authority. Sometimes they were treated as concubines. With a great cared reputation of the sex-crossers, it was the state of affairs when the Spanish arrived at the country.
Third-Genders on the Spanish Period
This prestigious reputation was present when the Spanish arrived, and they found out that it was by nature immoral, a violation to the teachings that they introduced to the Filipinos. We heard from Spanish accounts of encounter between the “conquestadores” and the archipelago’s various “indios” that means dressing as women was a cultural feature of early colonial and presumably pre-colonial communities.
With that, gender-crossers were significant not just because they crossed the male and female gender lines but because to the Spanish, they were astonishing even threatening as they were respected leaders and figures of authority. Being “babaylans and catalonans” they were capable of communicating the spirits, the visible and invisible worlds that’s why local rulers (datus) look on them with a great deal of respect. They calmed bad angry spirits, foretold the future, healed sickness and even brought peace between angry couple as tribe.
As the Catholicism spread out and the Spanish domination became more strong as the years went through, the status of the women were progressively deteriorated, gender-crossers become more and more difficult. Spanish accused Chinese people for being responsible for the spreading of the gender-crossing or making it “sodomy people.” Local men dressed in as women suffered from the strong made pride introduced by the Spanish culture. From being “bayoguin” as a specie bamboo, in tagalog speaking regions of Luzon, the name “bayog” was changed into “bakla or kabaklaan” meaning “confused and cowardly”.
Since confusion has always corresponding resolution, there’s a possibility for it to be corrected or straightened. Then tortured “pagmamahal” existed. A brutal sense of correction occurred just to correct the ill people or the “confused gender-crossers”. With that situation the gender-crossers have been deprived by their rights of being people, considered as immoral, having no rights to voice out their clamours over centuries of Spanish colonization some of the “bakla” hid their identities but this third gender never end even so as the societal discrimination.
Philippine Political Traditions Influenced by Foreign Countries When the Spanish domination lasted and the American period started, in which arguably the Philippines remains, saw the expansion of the Filipino newly empowered middle class, standardization of education, and changes of Filipino ideas about sexuality through academic learning and the mass media. It changed the Filipino perspective about sexuality. It means that sexual life is something to be studied, one that required a new psychological style previously unknown in the Philippines. Western psychology took root. So by virtue of colonialism and neo-colonialism, Filipinos have been socialized in western modes of gender and sexual identity formation.
Unlike the Spanish time and their beliefs they were not actually discussed openly at the catholic churches the “kabaklaan” since they considered it a merely confusion, temporary and curable. The America’s believed and labelled “kabaklaan” as homosexuality where gays and lesbians were coined. Many historians argued that “kabaklaan and homosexuality” were once different and that people used them interchangeably. With the essence of democracy, introduced by the America, homosexual educated Filipino started to lobby the branches of government shouting for their rights and freedom.
Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgender Struggles and Movements As people were educated same as true with the LGBT, their eyes were opened for equality, human rights, equal protections of the law reclaiming the rights that they have lost from centuries of homophobia and discrimination. LGBT started to voice out. Filipino LGBT organizations and movements existed.
They started to lobby the government branches and agencies. Some of them are; Ang Ladlad, Barangay Los Angeles, PUP Kabaro, UP Babaylan, Doll House, Pro Gay, Lesbian Advocates In The Closet, Lesbian Advocates In The Philippines, Lunduyan Ng Sining, Iwag, Gahum, Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights), Society Of Transsexual Women In The Philippines, Order Of Saint Aldred, AKOD, Gorgeous And Young, Philippine Forum In Sports, Culture, Sexuality, And Human Rights, UPLB Babaylan and Task Force Pride (TFP) Philippines. Traits of homosexuality resulted to in encouraging narratives hybridity, appropriation, and post colonial resistance from “politicized filipino”.
On the status of LGBT in the Philippines, information was submitted by Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights) and Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, human rights organizations from the Philippines, in the framework of the Universal Periodic Review for the Philippines, in order to draw attention of the Human Rights Council on lesbian, gay, bisexuals, and transgender rights in the Philippines. The report was largely based on unpublished interview, grassroots research, media reports the web and the records of the Philippine government and United Nation Agencies.
Although the Philippines has signed and ratified most of the core human rights instrument, including ICCPR, ICE, CSR, CEDAW, CRC, CRTD, CERD and other human right treaties Philippine Society and Culture maintain much prejudiced towards the LGBT community and lacks basic sensitivity and recognition of the LGBT rights. Although a number of laws mention sexual orientation or address some sex relations, such as The Magna Carta on Women, often times the references have negative impact on the human rights of the LGBTs. According to the Constitution, the State guarantees full respect for human rights and every person has the right to equal protection of the laws, but sexual orientation and gender identity are not explicitly mentioned, so, the Philippines has no comprehensive anti discrimination laws.
Only one city has a local ordinance limited to the workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Draft bills that protect sexual orientation and alternately, other agencies have expressed policies that are discriminatory too their employees or clients. According to the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch research on violence against the LGBT population in the Philippines, around 141 deaths of LGBT with varying elements of motives or hate or bias, extrajudicial killing, and/ or discrimination related violence related to sexual orientation and gender identity have been documented in media mass media reports and oral testimonies since 1996. Despite of that, LGBT still presents their appeals, and so the Judiciary has made several favourable and unfavourable precedents in the legal treatment of the LGBTs and intersex persons.
In fact the Philippine permanent representatives at the United Nations did not support both the June 2011 Joint Statement at the UN Human Rights Council urging states to end violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations based on sexual and gender identity; and the Joint Statement and the December 2010 United Nation Assembly resolution which included protection for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people from extrajudicial executions (EJE), and other unlawful killings based on sexual orientation. Movements and Interest Groups regarding LGBT continued to exist and lobbied the government.
Social and Political Victory in Evolution
The voices of the LGBT communities became more loud, aggressive, and desperate for anti-discrimination, equality, anti vagrancy and equal political power. LGBT organizations, movements and interest groups become higher in number and of members going on its way of being influential. Among them is the “Ang LADLAD LGBT Political Party” formerly known as “Ang Lunduyan”, formed n September 1, 2003 as a network of lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgender Filipinos.
The members can either be LGBT organizations or individuals or their heterosexual supporters. “Ang LADLAD network” applied as a party list organization. During the last 2007 election the party list was previously disqualified for failing to prove that they had nationwide membership. After that, the LGBT “Ang LADLAD” continued t o appeal for May 2010 elections but when the resolution was passed at the COMELEC on November 11, 2009, the resolution has been dismissed because of “moral grounds”. The issue was about morality which was probably impeded by the conservatives, to the fact that religion is the measurement of morality while December 16, 2009 resolution denied the motion for reconsideration of the earlier resolution.
However, the Supreme Court on April 20, 2010 granted the petition of “Ang LADLAD LGBT party” for having satisfied all the legal requirements for registration as a part-list organization under the RA 7941, or The Party List System and directed the Commission on Elections to grant its application for part-list accreditation in the May 2010 elections. The Court found that “Ang LADLAD”, has satisfied the exacting standards that “marginalized and underrepresented sector must demonstrate past subordination or discrimination suffered by the group; an immutable distinguishing characteristics, attribute, or experience that define them as discrete group; and present political and economic powerlessness.”
The Court also said that the Party List has shown that the LGBT sector has been historically disadvantaged and discriminated because of negative perception, and has been alleged acts of violence perpetrated against its members by reason of their sexual orientation and gender identity. In Article 3, section 5 of the Philippine Constitution, the Court stressed that “no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Thus, it found a grave violation of the non-establishment clause for the COMELEC to utilize the BIBLE and QURAN to justify the exclusion of “Ang LADLAD”.
Moral disapproval indeed is not a sufficient governmental interest to justify exclusion of homosexuals from the participation in the party list system. At present the “Ang LADLAD” will run under the party-list election this coming May 13, 2013 national election with the platforms of: support for the Anti-Discrimination Bill, Re-filing of the Bill to repeal the Anti-Vagrancy Law, Setting up of Centers for Golden Gays, or Old and Abandoned LGBTs as well as young ones driven out their homes and many more.
On the part of LGBT’s victory on evolution, the United Nations Human Rights Committee completed its fourth periodic review of the compliance of the Government of the Philippines with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), TLF Share, and a coalition of 39 Filipino human rights organizations and 13 LGBT activists submitted a report, entitled Human Rights Violations on the Basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Homosexuality in the Philippines, to the Committee. Representatives Ging Cristobal and Jonas Bagas presented their findings at the session.
The government delegation consisted of 26 representatives of diverse branches of government and was headed by Department of Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. The UNHRC during the interactive dialogue with the State questioned about the pending bill on the Philippine Congress regarding the anti-discrimination bill and the non-humanitarian act or treatment by some NGOs and government offices to the LGBT community. Despite of that, the Committee lauded the government for the landmark Supreme Court ruling in the case of “Ang LADLAD” LGBT political party. It is the fact and evidence that the Filipino LGBT’s really and victoriously evolved, some says not yet totally but it is going there.
For centuries of Struggles “third gender” now accepted, maybe not totally but they got the higher percentage of sexual, social and political. Now we understand what kind of people they were; that before the Spanish colonial days they were known as “bayoguin” who hold the great responsibility on executing the laws of government, religious leaders, spiritual consultants and image of moral authority. But on the entrance of the Spanish Period their carried fame and respected reputation washed out. Because of religious teachings of Catholicism they were considered as “confused” and “coward”, immoral. Their native name was changed into “bakla” and, their confusions were corrected using “whatever persuasive, brutally loving means”.
Then America and other influential countries appeared that dressed the “third gender” into a new identity having a vision of sexuality being linked to political studies. Education and Mass Media opened their eyes into a new hope, discovered their rights, they longed for equality so that discriminations and rejections would be stopped. Organizations, Movements and Interest Groups appeared and started to appeal and lobby the government.
Years of appeals and movements passed, at last many people accepted them which are at present called LGBT or lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender while some conservatives do not. Their claims were granted and successfully established their own Political Party known as “Ang Ladlad”. Surveys say Filipinos are now accepting them, an evidences that they are successful on their struggles for acceptance socially and politically. References
Art.12, ICSC, Principles 17&18. Yogyakarta Principles
Article 46. family Code
Deleon, Hector, S. Philippine Constitution. 2008 Edition. LL.B., University of the Philippines. Philippines; 2008 Garcia, Neil, J. Male Homosexuality in the Philippines: A Short History http://lifetranslated.blogspot.com/2010/08/j-neil-garcias-male-homosexuality-in.html
Rempillo, Jay, B. SC: Ang Ladlad is Qualified Party-List Candidate http://sc.judiciary.gov.ph/publications/benchmark/2010/04/041003.php The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Philippines: UN Human Rights Committee Identifies LGBT Rights Violations. http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/pressroom/pressrelease/1597.htm The Labor Code of the Philippines
http://www.bcphilippineslawyers.com/the-labor-code-of-the-philippines-book-3/ http://www.rainbowrightsproject.org. Rainbow Rights Project. Date retrieved October 1, 2012 http://laws.chanrobles.com. Philippine Laws, Statuses and Codes. Date retrieved October 1, 2012 http://www.congress.gov.ph. Bill Penalizing Discrimination Vs. Lgbts Pushed http://www.chanrobles.com/executiveorder209.htm.