By Ben Rosario
The House Committee on Women and Gender Equality has endorsed the enactment of a bill that seeks to declare May 17 of every year the “National Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia”.
The still unnumbered measures consolidate House Bills 4413 and 8364 authored by Reps. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Partylist) and John Marvin Nieto (NP, Manila).
Zarate said May 17 is also acknowledged as \”International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia” or IDAHO in commemoration of the day when the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Mental Disorders in 1990.
“Every year on this date, people all over the world pause and ponder on the high human and social cost of discrimination, violence and harassment against LGBTs all over the world, especially in 80 countries where acts, speeches, works, and other things related to same-sex and same-gender relations are still punished or fined,” said Zarate.
Zarate lamented that homosexuality remains a prohibited behavior in several countries. In Uganda, lawmakers have sought the enactment of a measure that would make homosexuality a crime punishable with death.
The party list lawmaker said that despite modest gains in social and legal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTs) in the Philippines, much still has to be done for them to achieve full legal and social equality.
“Thousands of LGBTs still suffer the harsh reality of homophobia (fear of homosexuals) and transphobia (fear of transgenders) in their daily lives,” Zarate claimed.
He said that many are refused employment, the use of public facilities or health care services, among others, because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
However, he failed to give specifics about these claims.
Zarate also claimed that recent reports indicated an increase in violent crimes committed against LGBTs.
He said that while laws protecting marginalized sectors such as women, children, migrants, national minorities, and the elderly have been passed, Congress has yet to pass measures protecting the rights of the LGBTs.
Under the bill, the National Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia shall be commemorated in the Philippines every year in recognition of the rights of LGBTs in the country and the need to end the discrimination, oppression and intolerance they are faced with in society.
Homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are defined as dislike or prejudice against persons who are homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender, respectively.
As provided, all government offices, private institutions, schools, colleges and universities are hereby encouraged to extend their full support for exercises and activities in the observance, promotion and protection of LGBT rights.