LGBTQ+ sector gains voice in Marcos EO | Inquirer News

LGBTQ+ sector gains voice in Marcos EO

By: - Reporter / @NCorralesINQ
/ 05:30 AM December 24, 2023

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders assemble at Rizal Park to prepare for their 21st Metro Manila Pride March on June 27, 2015, with a massive rainbow banner that symbolizes their community.  lgbtq marcos

RAINBOW PRIDE Lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders assemble at Rizal Park to prepare for their 21st Metro Manila Pride March on June 27, 2015, with a massive rainbow banner that symbolizes their community. —INQUIRER PHOTO

President Marcos has issued an executive order creating a special committee for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQ+) community to promote their rights and give them a voice in policymaking.

Malacañang said on Saturday that Executive Order No. 51, signed on Dec. 22, was intended “to strengthen existing mechanisms to address the continued discrimination being experienced by the members of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

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The EO cited the need to reinforce the government’s Diversity and Inclusion Program (DIP) and reconstitute its interagency committee created under then President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 100 in 2019 “to ensure the country’s continuous compliance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

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DIP composition

Under the EO, the DIP would be led by the secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. It will be co-chaired by the secretaries of the Department of Migrant Workers and the Department of Labor and Employment. The Department of the Interior and Local Government secretary will serve as vice chair.

The secretaries of education, justice, and health, and the chairpersons of the Commission on Higher Education and the Special Committee on LGBTQIA+ Affairs will serve as members.

According to the EO, the special committee aims to provide the LGBTQ+ “an avenue to participate in policy formulation of the government despite the absence of an established body specifically dedicated to promote their rights and address their concerns.”

Presidential Communications Secretary Cheloy Velicaria-Garafil said the creation of the special committee was discussed during the President’s meeting with the LGBT Pilipinas party list in Malacañang in June this year.

First lady’s support

Garafil said “the group pushed for more visibility and representation in the bureaucracy, proposing the creation of an advisory body or commission on LGBTQIA+ affairs under the Office of the President.”

In his speech during the “LGBT Pride Reception” for members of LGBT Pilipinas organized by first lady Liza Araneta Marcos, the President assured the LGBTQ+ community that the government would protect them against discrimination, saying that everybody should be given equal treatment.

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‘Ultimate gift’

“I just wanted to say hello and to let you know that we in the Philippines, what we are really after is that everybody is treated not for any other thing, not for race, not for creed, not for orientation, but just as Filipinos,” he said. The first lady was confident that the President would grant the request of LGBT Pilipinas as “a way of giving back” to members of the LGBTQ+ community who supported Mr. Marcos in the May 2022 elections.

In a statement on the EO, LGBT Pilipinas, which did not win any House seat in the last election, said the creation of the special committee was the President’s “ultimate gift” to its community.

“This landmark decision reflects not only a commitment to equality but also a profound understanding of the importance of fostering inclusivity and diversity in our society,” the group said, praising the President for ensuring equal rights and opportunities for all citizens.

Papal ruling

“By taking this decisive step, you have not only set a powerful example for other leaders but have also significantly contributed to creating a more just and compassionate nation,” it said.

LGBT Pilipinas pointed out that the EO would send a “powerful message of acceptance, respect, and understanding to members of the LGBTQ+ community, assuring them that their rights are valued and protected.”

The party list noted that the President’s order came just days after Pope Francis approved a landmark ruling allowing Roman Catholic priests to administer blessings to same-sex couples.

It said that the President’s move “will go down in history as the new times require” and that the voices of the LGBTQ+ community were now being heard “by the state and the Church.”

Under the EO, the special committee will have three members with the rank of assistant secretary appointed by the President “from among the members of reputable organizations representing the LGBTQIA+ community.”

The special committee should ensure that policies, plans, and programs would “effectively promote equality, equity, nondiscrimination, inclusion and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community,” the order said.

Pending bills

Proposed laws against discrimination, particularly against the LGBTQ+ community, have been pending in Congress for years.

In 2000, the first version of a bill that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (Sogiesc) was filed in Congress by the late Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago and former Rep. Etta Rosales.

According to the defenders of the Sogiesc bill, the legislation was an antidiscriminatory measure that would benefit the LGBTQ+ and everyone with various gender orientations.

The bill has been forwarded several times but it has not been approved by either the House or the Senate.

It remains pending after it was referred back to the rules panel headed by Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva despite having been approved by the chamber’s committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality.

History of discrimination

The country has seen a long history of discrimination—and worse, violence—against members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Among the most prominent cases was the killing in 2014 of transgender woman Jennifer Laude in a motel in Olongapo City in a hate crime by US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton. He was granted absolute pardon in 2020 by Duterte.

Online personality and transgender man Ebeng Mayor was raped and killed in what was regarded as a hate crime in 2021. Three suspects have been arrested and charged with rape, homicide and robbery.

In 2019, a transgender woman, Gretchen Diez, was placed in police custody for trying to enter a toilet for women in a Quezon City mall. She filed a complaint against Araneta Center Inc. and Starline Security Agency for violating the Quezon City Gender Fair Ordinance.

In 2022, Dylan Tansico Silva was barred from dressing according to gender expression during his graduation at a university in Cavite. The college said it was not going to show a picture of Silva being handed a diploma onstage, as Silva was wearing a polo with a necktie. Silva was also deadnamed on stage. Deadnaming is the act of calling someone, especially a transgender person, a name they no longer use. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH 

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READ: LGBTQ community members hold pride march in Quezon City

TAGS: committee, gay, LGBTQ, Marcos, sector

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