UNHRC member states, advocates call on PH to protect rights of LGBTQIA+ Filipinos
MANILA, Philippines — Member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and organizations advocating LGBTQIA+ rights are calling on the Philippines to protect LGBTQIA+ Filipinos against discrimination.
The call was made after the UNHRC conducted its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Philippines on Nov. 14. This is the fourth time that the council has conducted the UPR for the Philippines, with the first, second, and third UPR taking place back in 2008, 2012, and 2017, respectively.
During the UPR, member states craft recommendations for adoption by the Philippine government. These recommendations are intended to direct measures in addressing human rights-related issues.
The UPR of the Philippines received a total of nine recommendations and two remarks on the rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals from the governments of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden, United States of America, and Mexico.
“—Accelerate efforts to pass the law on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression and the comprehensive anti-discrimination law,” the Ambassador of Mexico said in presenting these recommendations.
Meanwhile, a report on the human rights of LGBTQIA+ situation was jointly prepared and provided by 13 LGBTQIA+ organizations in the Philippines.
It pointed to the failed attempts to pass national legislation — despite previous UPR recommendations that were also sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC)-specific — on anti-discrimination laws as one of the critical concerns for LGBTQIA+ rights.
Further, it also pointed out that up to the present, the Philippines still does not have a comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to protect LGBTQIA+ Filipinos.
This is despite the fact that in the UPR report in 2017, the Philippines have already received two specific recommendations on human rights related to SOGIESC from Australia and Mexico.
LGBTQIA+ rights group Asean SOGIE Caucus Executive Director Ryan Silverio, meanwhile, said that “the Philippine government remains unclear on its position about the advancement of LGBTQIA+ human rights in the country.”
“Through the UPR, we hope that a dialogue can take place to encourage the government to commit and take clear steps towards a SOGIESC-inclusive society. In the absence of mechanisms for redress, we value the UPR as a venue to raise key concerns, including the decades-long delay in passing SOGIESC inclusive anti-discrimination legislation, ongoing social stigma that deny transgender and queer students access to education, and the red-tagging of LGBTQIA+ Activists,” he said.
According to advocates, the recommendations were consistent with the advocacy agenda of the LGBTQIA+ movement: to pass comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that protects the rights of all persons based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics, to pass legislation prohibiting hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ people, and to repeal legislation that jeopardizes the human rights of transgender persons, are the common recommendations raised by different member states.
“Young people all around the world are fighting for equality and inclusion. We know that the fight for equality transcends generations – to honor those who have fought before us and protect the next generation to come from violence and hate. We continue to affirm that LGBTQIA+ rights are basic human rights,” said Pantay National Convener Vince Liban.
“The inclusion of the Philippine LGBTQIA+ situation in the UPR will not only be a prudent move, but a great step forward for our dream as queer Filipinos to be recognized, to be seen, and to reclaim our rightful place in the world,” he added.