Gay Philippines News & Reports 2011

1 Personal Essay: Never too late 4/07

2 In Southeast Asia, no longer silence on LGBT issues 5/11

3 AIDS advocates use social networking to educate high risk sector 5/11

4 The Courage Unfolds Campaign 5/11

5 An emerging epidemic 6/11

5a 103 suspected anti-LGBT hate crime deaths 7/11

6 The 2011 Philippine National LGBT Conference 7/11

7 VIFF 2011: Gay Asian films explore world of prostitution 9/11

8 Shots Fired At Cebu Gays 10/11

9 Psychologists Take A Stand Against LGBT Discrimination 11/11

April 07, 2011 – PIA

Most HIV cases in Cebu are injecting drug users

by Juju S. Manubag
Cebu City (PIA) – Ninety-two percent (92%) of the thirteen (13) recorded Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) cases in Cebu for the 1st quarter this year are injecting drug-users. Cebu City Health Department CCHD Social Hygiene Head Dr. Ilya Tac-an bared this in a phone interview with PIA. Tac-an said that a high percentage of injecting drug users have caused the spread of the HIV due to the sharing of needles from an HIV carrier to another. Tac-an also bared that the 13 cases in Cebu are all men and most of them are “Men who have sex with Men (MSM).
Tac-an also disclosed that the ages of these patients are from 18 to 44 years old.

According to a report from the Department of Health (DOH) the Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) infection does not respects age, race, gender, social status among others. The report also states that twenty six (26) years after the first case of HIV was detected in the country. The Philippines has now a total of 6,167 HIV positive cases reported to DOH (1984-January 2011). At present, a total of 1,200 people living with HIV are currently on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment in the 13 treatment hubs.

In Cebu, the ARV treatment is being administered for free at Vicente Sotto Memorial Center (VSMC), Tac-an said. If the patient will have a healthy lifestyle, the infections will be controlled by a healthy immune system and will make him live up to ten years. But if he is “abusado” according to Tac-an it will ultimately cause the fatally Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or Aids resulting to death. (PIA-Cebu/jsm)

6 May 2011 – LGBT Asylum News

In Southeast Asia, no longer silence on LGBT issues

by Dr. Jason Abbott
Last week 66 young boys in the conservative largely Muslim state of Terengganu, Malaysia, were sent to a special ‘re-education’ camp for displaying signs of effeminacy which if left ‘unchecked’, state official argued, could “reach the point of no return”. In other words they could ‘become’ gay or transsexual.
While the women’s minister, Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, criticized this move, neither the state government nor the Federal government has yet acted to do anything about this. But we should not be either shocked or surprised since gay rights in Malaysia are largely non-existent. Only a month earlier for example, Malaysian radio stations chose to deliberately ‘garble’ the line, “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian or transgendered life, I’m on the right track, baby” in the Lady Gaga song “Born this Way” for fear of being fined by the government for breaking rules on ‘good taste… decency.. [or for being] “offensive to public feeling”.

Indeed as the current trial of the opposition leader, and former deputy Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim visibly demonstrates, the country’s religious and political elite continue to regard homosexuality as a morally repugnant way of life. Thus in Anwar’s case putting him on trial for sodomy (which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison) has proven a ‘convenient’ and sadly rational tactic by the government to destroy his political career and tarnish his public image. But Malaysia is by no-means on it’s own in the region in its staunchly conservative stance. When it comes to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender rights, Southeast Asia is found severely wanting.

While Thailand might be infamous for its transsexual ‘lady boys’, same-sex marriage and same-sex adoption remain illegal, and there are no anti-discrimination laws nor laws concerning gender and identity expression. Arguably the most gay-friendly country in Southeast Asia (perhaps surprisingly given that it is overwhelmingly Catholic) is The Philippines, where same-sex adoption is permitted and since 2009 openly gay men and women have been allowed to serve in the military. However even here anti-discrimination law is largely absent nationally, while same-sex marriages or civil partnerships are not officially recognized. And yet Thailand, Cambodia and The Philippines are in a veritable league of their own compared to the rest of the region. In Burma, Brunei, and Malaysia homosexuality remains illegal with harsh prison sentences the normal punishment; none of the ten Southeast Asian countries recognize neither same-sex marriages or partnerships; only two allow same-sex adoption (Cambodia and The Philippines); three allow gay men or women to serve in the military (The Philippines, Thailand and Singapore) and none have passed anti-discrimination laws.

To defend this appalling track record, arguments have been made about ‘cultural and spiritual pollution’ from the decadent (sic) West, and about the incompatibility of homosexuality with the teachings of Islam and other religions. In most cases the opposition is pure bigotry and drawn from the view that regards LGBTs as nothing more than deviant ‘life-style’ choices. The head of Malaysia’s controversial Islamic Affairs department in an interview with Time magazine in 2000 epitomized this view when he remarked that homosexuality “is a crime worse than murder”. When asked if it was wrong for two people of the same sex to love each other he rebuked the questioner replying, “Love? How can men have sex with men? God did not make them this way. This is all Western influence”.

In even starker terms former Prime Minister of Malaysia Dr. Mahathir Mohamad warned in a national day speech in 2003 that “if there are any homosexuals in Malaysia they had better mend their ways.” In the same speech he also criticized the West saying that, “they are very angry — especially their reporters, many of whom are homos — when we take legal action against these practices.” But it is not simply Malaysia where such views remain widespread. For example, a crowd of extremists shut down the 4th International Lesbian and Gay Association Asia conference that was supposed to take place in Surabaya, Indonesia between 26th and 28th March 2010. In addition all 150 participants had to evacuate the conference hotel.

May 11, 2011 – Philippine Information Agency

AIDS advocates use social networking to educate high risk sector

by Mai Gevera
Davao City (PIA) – Advocates of HIV/AIDS are now starting to penetrate social networking sites that cater to MSMs or male having sex with male to provide information about the high risk involved in MSM relationships. Eddie Batoon of IWAG Davao considers the trend of social networking as a big opportunity for HIV-AIDS advocates as easy communication equates to easy access. “Since there is no law that prohibits the public to join this kind of social networking site, what we do in IWAG Davao is we try to penetrate the network site and do some education campaign and information dissemination on the risk of unsafe sex that may lead to HIV-AIDS,” Batoon said.

The rising incidence of HIV cases has alarmed the advocates, noting that this quarter alone, the city has recorded 22 HIV-positive patients, a record breaking high as compared to last year’s annual rate of 39 HIV-positive patients in the region. Dr. Jordana Ramiterre of the City Health Office admitted the lack of resources in providing health assistance to patients who suspect to have or already have HIV infection. “We now have dwindling resources since Global Fund will soon end their assistance on providing condoms and other services,” she said.

However, the CHO will continue its education campaign to reach out to high risk population in the community. Even in the absence of a popular face that would help promote such advocacy just like the role of AIDS activist and educator Sara Jane Salazar who was the second Filipino to go public with HIV, the health department still brings with them HIV-positive patients to give testimonies in barangay fora or any education drive conducted by the office.

National figures showed that there are 159 new HIV Ab sero-positive individuals confirmed by the STD/AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory. This is a 22 percent increase compared to the same period last year. Most of the cases are males while the median age was 28 years. The 20-29 year age-group has the most number of cases. Fifty-six percent of the reported cases were from the National Capital Region. To continue the drive in raising public awareness on this kind of disease, the city will hold a Candlelight Memorial, a candle lighting activity to be participated in by various sectors in the community, aiming to put a stop of HIV transmission through education and information dissemination.

The activity will be held at Rizal Park at 5:30 pm on May 15. (PIA-11/Mai Gevera)

May 17, 2011 – IGLHRC

The Courage Unfolds Campaign

The Courage Unfolds Campaign calls for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people to be protected by law, respected by society, and accepted by family. It is a call for the use of the Yogyakarta Principles as a tool to ensure the respect, protection and promotion by governments of the human rights of all people – including LGBT people. This set of international legal principles addresses the application of international law to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

To achieve this goal, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is asking activists, LGBT groups, human rights defenders, and concerned citizens to join the campaign. As central to this campaign, IGLHRC’s Asia Program has produced a documentary film – Courage Unfolds – highlighting the issues faced by LGBT people in Asia and how the Yogyakarta Principles are a relevant and effective tool that LGBT activists can use in their advocacy for human rights.

Learn: Learn more about the Yogyakarta Principles and LGBT activism in Asia by watching the Courage Unfolds documentary

Share: Tell your friends and community about this Campaign and how they can join you. Share your actions with us and others on IGLHRC’s Courage Unfolds Map.

Act: Screen Courage Unfolds, hold a rally, a training or a community event, write about using the Yogyakarta Principles, or petition your government to address violence and discrimination against LGBT people.

June 10th, 2011 – Inquirer Opinion

An emerging epidemic

by Jonas Bagas – Philippine Daily Inquirer
Thirty years since the discovery of AIDS, the world appears to be ready to look at the epidemic with a more optimistic lens: the death rate is going down in many parts of the world, thanks to innovation in anti-retroviral treatment, and there’s a global decline in new infections. This week, in a high-level meeting of more than 40 heads of states and ministers, the United Nations will set a new direction in the battle to eliminate HIV and AIDS. There will be the usual political wrangling and hostile debates over the next global political commitment on HIV and AIDS, especially on the issue of funding the global HIV response, but there is no denying that sense of hope prevailing among HIV and AIDS activists.

Unfortunately, that spirit of optimism will not reach Philippine shores. Citing government reports, the United Nations said that the Philippines is one of the only seven countries worldwide that diverged from the global trend: the country is experiencing a sharp rise in HIV infection, from one new infection a day in 2007 to five to six a day in 2011. The Department of Health’s official HIV registry is not showing an unusual rise in HIV deaths, but stories of deaths among young men (who had sex with men) due to AIDS-related complications are circulating within the gay, bisexual and transgendered community. These deaths, mostly a result of late diagnosis of HIV status and failure to access treatment, are increasing but remain undetected because of stigma: families of those who perished refuse to report the real cause of death.

We can only blame complacency and the lack of political leadership for the emerging HIV epidemic in the country. The government has been warned that the Philippines has all the necessary ingredients for a full-blown HIV epidemic, but authorities have taken false comfort from the fact that it has not reached the general population yet. That there is no large-scale HIV epidemic in the country is a product of our moral values, thus proclaimed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in a statement that captures the attitude among politicians toward the virus.

But HIV experts have warned that it is just a matter of time for the epidemic to reach the general population. Migrant Filipinos, especially women, are still considered vulnerable, but government data show that the epidemic remains concentrated: 80 percent of new infections have been transmitted through unprotected male-to-male sex among young Filipinos, mostly in urban centers (more than half of new cases are in Metro Manila); injecting drug users are the drivers of HIV infection in Cebu, and in some areas, new HIV cases are being reported among people in prostitution or sex workers. Unofficial projection by epidemiologists indicates that in five years, three out of 10 men who have sex with men and transgenders would be infected by the virus.

Countries that were able to halt their HIV epidemic have shown the importance of reversing and stopping microepidemics. It might be politically convenient to ignore the growing HIV infection among gays, bisexuals, transgenders, sex workers and drug users. The government can always resort to populist moves—conducting raids on gay-sex establishments, pursuing policies that treat condoms as evidence of criminal activities, or rounding up sex workers and drug users. It will get good media mileage, or perhaps some votes, but it won’t stop the virus from spreading. Doing so, in fact, smacks of idiocy, a willful rejection of the growing evidence of what works and what doesn’t in addressing the HIV epidemic. Thirty years of AIDS have produced a body of lessons that could and should guide the Philippines: the importance of promoting large-scale and evidence-based safer sex interventions, not just abstinence; encouraging voluntary HIV counseling and testing; improving access to treatment; care and support services for Filipinos living with HIV and AIDS; and removing discriminatory barriers to access to HIV services, including those that stigmatize those who are vulnerable to HIV infection.

These are not rocket science, but the application of these standards is already revolutionary because of the big leap in perspective that they require from the political leadership, especially from President Aquino himself. He has no choice but to confront this legacy: ignoring it, the approach adopted by his predecessor, will only add fuel to the fire. For years, the country’s HIV and AIDS programs have mainly been delivered by civil society groups and by government agencies that heavily rely on foreign donors. The government must step up its response by putting money and action behind its commitments to combat HIV and AIDS. It still can reverse and halt the epidemic, but the first step is to have the political will to do it.

Jonas Bagas is the civil society representative of the official Philippine delegation to the United Nations High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS, which is taking place in New York from June 8 to 10, 2011. The meeting, which will gather more than 40 heads of state and ministers, marks the 30th anniversary of AIDS. Bagas is the vice chair of TLF Share, an NGO for the health and human rights of Filipino gays, bisexuals and transgenders.

8 July 2011 – Fridae

103 suspected anti-LGBT hate crime deaths: the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch

by Sylvia Tan
With 103 suspected anti-LGBT hate crime deaths since 1996 including 28 cases during the first half of 2011 alone, the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch has embarked on a public campaign to call for more awareness and legislative change. Fridae speaks to researcher Marlon Lacsamana to find out more. Winton Lou Ynion, a gay doctoral student at the University of the Philippines at the time, was found dead with a knife was firmly planted in his skull on Aug.16, 2009. The 28-year-old was stabbed 40 times in the head, neck and chest by an unknown assailant in his condominium in Quezon City.

Five months earlier, the body of Vincent Jan Rubio, a 28-year-old gay film professor at La Salle College Antipolo, was found lying on a lawn wearing only a polo shirt and underwear. Local media reports say that Rubio might have been killed by two men who might have been “pick-ups”. These are just two of 103 cases documented by Marlon Lacsamana and Reighben Earl Wystern Mendoza Labilles of the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch. According to the duo who are conducting the online study and archiving reports of suspected LGBT-related killings, a total of 103 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered Filipinos have been killed since 1996 including 28 cases during the first half of 2011 alone. Of the 103, 61 were gay men, 26 were transgender, 12 were lesbian, and four were bisexuals. The Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch project, which operates via its blog and on Facebook, is supported by a coalition of individual advocates and organisations.

Lacsamana, 34, who is a librarian by profession was friends with both Ynion and Rubio, began to document the cases as he combed through the news archives of local papers after realising that no one was keeping track of suspected hate crimes in the country despite such cases happening with seeming regularity. He told Fridae: “It’s personal for me, when I first lost a friend to an indescribable death in March of 2009, I cried and felt hopeless and helpless, and it happened again in September of the same year. I felt there is something to be done. Many LGBTs in the Philippines I know were being killed. And being a librarian, I started collecting the names of the LGBT individuals who were murdered.”

According to the report “A Database of Killed Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered Filipinos” that was released on Jun 17, the killers preferred to stab their LGBT victims to death. Thirty-eight of the 103 victims died from multiple stab wounds while 20 were shot. Six were tortured before they were killed. Others were raped, or killed with a blunt object, or suffocated, or dismembered, or burned alive. The study also showed that LGBTS who belonged to the 25 to 44 age group were most vulnerable, with 46 of 103 victims in this age range; and with most crimes happening in the Greater Manila Area.

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11 July, 2011 – MSM Global Forum

The 2011 Philippine National LGBT Conference Official Statement

The official statement of participants representing forty-six (46) LGBT groups in the Philippines from Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and the National Capital Region during the Philippine National LGBT Conference, "Forging Unity Towards the Recognition of LGBT Human Rights in the Philippines” on June 3 – 5, 2011 at Cavite, Philippines. For years we, the lesbian, gay, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) groups in the Philippines, have always pushed forward the agenda of equality and respect from mainstream society and have been clamoring for due diligence from the government specifically for the passage of laws that will protect the rights of all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

LGBT groups have held on to the promise and dream of every LGBT person in the Philippines: to live a life of dignity and respect, free from discrimination and violence. Through the passion and commitment of LGBT groups to promote and protect LGBT rights, there has been significant progress in the different aspects of LGBT people’s lives in the Philippines. However, the dominant patriarchal and heterosexist ideologies that pervade the society, and the legal, cultural and religious taboos, that they have ingrained has made it more challenging for LGBT groups to fully realize the equality agenda.

Despite the growing tolerance towards LGBT people, acceptance is still yet to be achieved. LGBT persons in the Philippines still face violence and discrimination from the family, from civil society organizations, from medical and health institutions, in schools, in employment and from the government. We have been kicked out of our homes. We have been bullied at school. We have been denied basic privileges at work. We have been barred from establishments and ridiculed in public places. We have been denied the opportunity to participate in legislation. All these we experience because we do not conform to gender norms dictated by society, a society that is a witness to the worsening situation of violence against our ranks. Ours is a society that allows the media to perpetuate stereotypes. Ours is a society that doesn’t take seriously the rising number of hate crimes being reported – thereby tolerating impunity. But at the end of the day, this is still our society so we will demand of it what is rightfully ours.

We now come together to stop this oppression. We come together to remind our government that we, as a marginalized community, as guided by the Yogyakarta Principles, are protected by international treaties and conventions the Philippine government has ratified such as the OPICESCR, OPICCPR, CEDAW, CRC, and the Magna Carta of Women.

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September 29, 2011 –

VIFF 2011: Gay Asian films explore world of prostitution

by Craig Takeuchi
Quite a number of queer-interest films at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival (which kicks off today, in case you missed the memo) hail from Asia as part of the Dragons and Tigers program. Since LGBT communities are gaining ground in countries there, we’ll inevitably see more and more media representations of gay life emerge from them.
Prostitution happens to be a common thread in three out of VIFF’s four Asian queer-interest selections this year. (The exception is Japan’s Our Future , about a tomboyish girl who is bullied at school for being too masculine.)

In the Filipino thriller Señorita , for example, a transgender surrogate mother and upscale hooker moves to a smalltown where she gets caught up in the politics surrounding an imminent election. But far from glamorizing the business, making it appear sexy, or sugarcoating things, two of the films keep a particularly fixed eye on the consequences and complications of working in the sex trade.

Lost in Paradise (which has its first screening tonight) breaks new ground as one of the first Vietnamese films to depict gay life in Ho Chi Minh City as its primary subject matter. In the film, a handsome, inexperienced youth, Khoi, moves to the city, and is swiftly taken advantage of by two gay conmen. One of them, Lam, takes pity on him, and even falls for him. While the film veers towards material that may seem well-trodden to fans of international queer cinema, and saccharine and romantic content (such as a mute mentally handicapped man who raises a duckling) gets cloying, it does keep things realistic when it comes to the hardships of being gay in the city.

The story makes much of the emotional impact of prostitution on personal relationships. Lam’s prostitution rapidly becomes a point of contention between the pair that threatens their intimacy. Meanwhile, abuse (including a female prostitute with an abusive couple as pimps), gay-bashings, and other forms of violence circle them as well. And it makes it clear that it’s not a world that’s easy to get out of once you’re in it. Stateless Things from South Korea takes an even rawer, more grim look at the lives of two young men, one living in affluence, the other barely scraping by. But both are trapped in unhappy lives.

One is an illegal North Korean immigrant named Jun, who tries to find whatever work he can, including an abusive gas station owner. The other is Hyeon, who lives in an upscale apartment thanks to his sugar daddy—a married businessman. Both wind up in prostitution, the first out of desperation, the other out of boredom and rebellion. Jun’s first sexual experience with a john is captured in detail, and his revulsion is heightened by his precarious situation (he lacks official papers and could be deported if caught), his need to survive, and the numerous struggles he faces along the way. The film isn’t necessarily about the Korean gay scene as it is a drama about two characters living in difficult situations who resort to male prostitution. Needless to say, these films aren’t for audiences seeking uplifting or encouraging depictions of gay life. Nonetheless, they do provide a revealing look at the challenges and pitfalls in the unrelenting world of prostitution and street life.

Check the VIFF website for screening times and details.

28 October 2011 – ILGA-Asia

Shots Fired At Cebu Gays

by Carmel Loise Matus
A gay support group in Cebu City is seeking action after a series of airgun attacks on local gays. Bisdak Pride Inc. founder and president Roxanne Omega-Doron and member Alvin Truya visited the office of Provincial Board (PB) Member Arleigh Sitoy yesterday on to hand over copies of police report of the incidents.
“There’s still prejudice against gays despite them saying that we are already accepted,” Truya said. Doron said they sought Sitoy’s help since he filed a proposed an anti-discrimination ordinance last March.

The ordinance prohibits employers from hiring hiring, promoting or dismissing workers based on sexual orientation or gender. Sitoy said the ordinance is timely and necessary to give protection to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Filipinos (LGBT). At least three incidents in Cebu City were reported since October 8 involving a group of unidentified men in a car shooting at gays on the street with pellet guns.

A man named only as Jeffrey said he was talking with a gay friend in barangay Tisa, Cebu City when a white car with no plate number stopped in front of them. A passenger fired an airgun hitting them in the back. They ran to the Punta Princesa police station to report the assault. Earlier that night, a similar incident was reported at the Fuente police station. Ramil Hitoro said he and his friends were walking along Mango Avenue when they were also shot in the legs. “We are doing this to let the public know that we are watching. The Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transgenders (LGBT) group is not letting these things pass,” Truya said. “They may use a real gun in the future.”

The group also asked for an investigation in the killing of a 54-year-old Albert Navarro last May. Navarro was allegedly killed by his lover, 34-year-old Richard Mandal. Last week, Navarro’s remains were found in an abandoned building in Lipata, Minglanilla.

November 2, 2011 – Digital Journal

Filipino Psychologists Take A Stand Against LGBT Discrimination

by Ron de Vera
On October 27, the Statement of the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) on "Non-Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression" was made public on PAP’s website. According to the website, PAP’s non-discrimination statement aims to "eliminate stigma, prejudice, discrimination and violence against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender)" people by supporting efforts to:

• oppose all public and private discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and expression;
• repeal discriminatory laws and policies, and support the passage of legislation at the local and national levels that protect the rights and promote the welfare of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and expressions;
• eliminate all forms of prejudice and discrimination against LGBTs in teaching, research, psychological interventions, assessment and other psychological programs;
• encourage psychological research that addresses the needs and concerns of LGBT Filipinos and their families and communities;
• disseminate and apply accurate and evidence-based information about sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to design interventions that foster mental health and well being of LGBT Filipinos.

By releasing this statement, the PAP joins the ranks of other mental health professional organizations around the world in affirming that "lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations are normal variants of human sexuality." These organizations include the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, British Psychological Society, the Colombian Society of Psychology, Psychological Society of South Africa, the Australian Psychological Society, and the International Network on Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Concerns and Transgender Issues in Psychology, among others.

A Society of Tolerance not Acceptance
The statement includes a general list of how LGBT Filipinos still experience stigma, prejudice and discrimination in Philippine society such as "bullying, teasing and harassment of LGBT children and adolescents in families, schools and communities; media portrayal of LGBTs as frivolous, untrustworthy and even dangerous or predatory; denying transgender Filipinos entry into commercial establishments; pigeonholing LGBT Filipinos into particularly limited roles and occupations; or curtailing their rights to participate in the political sphere."

In addition to these cases of discrimination, there have also been an increasing number of reported LGBT killings. According to The Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, a monitoring group that documents hate crimes in the Philippines, there have been more than 141 reported cases of LGBT people killed in the Philippines since 1996.

Read complete article here