Philippine NGO asks Aquino to improve LGBT human rights record before UN review

May. 31, 2012

For immediate release
25 May 2012

Philippine NGO asks Aquino to improve LGBT human rights record before UN review

MANILA — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) advocates led by the Rainbow Rights Project (R-Rights) are reminding the Aquino administration of the pending review before the United Nations (UN) of its record in respecting human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

On May 28, 2012, the UN Human Rights Council is set to cross-examine all the compliance by the Philippine government of international human rights conventions, including those that apply to LGBT sectors in the process called the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).  Both the government and civil society organizations have submitted separate reports.

In its report, “The Status of LGBT Rights in the Philippines, Submission to the Human Rights Council for the Universal Periodic Review 13th Session,” R-Rights and the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch (HCW) submitted a long list of violations of human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In March 2012, R-Rights represented by policy advocacy officer Germaine Trittle Leonin, has made several representations with the UN Human Rights Council based in Geneva and worked with the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights  while seeking to engage the Philippines official representative to act on the reports.

The R-Rights-HCW joint report scored government’s failure to enact the Antidiscrimination Law which has remained pending in Congress for over 12 years.  The report also noted the Supreme Court ruling against the rights of transgenders to have their identities changed in birth and travel documents.

Leonin said the R-Rights report also highlighted the lack of basic health care for LGBTs and certain medical abuses inflicted on transgender clients.  “Sadly, despite efforts by civil society groups, the government representative in Geneva has not made significant efforts to incorporate our recommendations in the discussions for this month,” he said.

In a related development, during Adoption Consciousness Week in March, officials of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) declared that while single gays are not prohibited from adopting, same-sex couples are not permitted to jointly adopt children, as the right is provided only for legally married partners.  Some DSWD officials have also expressed support for LGBTs being adoptive parents reasoning that there is no proof that LGBTs cannot be good parents.  However, the community is still requesting for a more definite policy that would protect the rights of adoptive gay parents.
R-Rights is also organizing a dialogue with the Office of the President this month after a massive raid on a gay sauna in Pasay City left many gay male clients traumatized.  R-Rights said it has been providing legal aid to hundreds of gay men who are brutalized by police in bar raids and street sweeps.  R-Rights is calling on the Philippine National Police to work with the community in preventing abusive behavior, extortion, and harassment in these instances.

The UPR is a process where the Council examines each member state for its implementation of human rights treaties.  The review this month is the second time the Philippines will come under the examination of the Council.

R-Rights will continue to engage the Philippine government until the Aquino administration and Congress will finally comply with the UPR process and issue the necessary laws and policies recommended for the LGBT sector.

Contact Germaine Trittle Leonin 09277852892

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