Manila, July 12, 2003 By Sheila Crisostomo (Star) More young Filipinos are having sex ó but with which gender?

A study done by the University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI) showed that some 550,000 Filipino males and females aged 15 to 24 have experienced sex with partners of the same gender.

Demography professor Corazon Raymundo said yesterday that the figure comprised 11 percent of the five million young Filipinos who engage in premarital sex. There are currently 16.5 million Filipinos aged 15 to 24 years old.

"Eleven percent of those with premarital sex experiences are done with partners of the same sexÖReally knowing that they are going to bed together, this is kind of shocking for the kind of society we have," she said in a forum held yesterday in observance of World Population Day at the Far Eastern University.

"But this is happening and the report is coming from our young people," she added.

The 2002 Young Adults Fertility Survey (YAFS) showed that males accounted for 52.6 percent of homosexual contact engaged in by Filipino youths, while females accounted for the remaining 47.4 percent.

Most of them engage in homosexual contact while still in school.

Close to 20,000 adolescents were interviewed by UPPI for the study, which was conducted from April to June last year.

Raymundo said that 46.4 percent of these homosexual contacts were paid, while the rest, surprisingly, "happened because they have relationships."

UPPI could not give comparative figures on homosexual relationships.

Raymundo, however, said that in the 1994 YAFS survey, UPPI asked Filipino youth if they get attracted to people of the same sex, and 10 percent of the males answered yes.

"Now this is different. Itís really same sex, meaning having a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex. For me, thatís really an increase," she said.

While same-sex relationships can rid young people of the fear of unwanted pregnancy, Raymundo warned that it exposes the youth to the risk of contracting Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases.

"There is a bigger tendency that same sex is unsafe sex. Thatís a reason why I would be concerned with same-sex relationships, especially for male homosexuals," she said.

Raymundo explained that "sex becomes risky when the participants are not physiologically and psychologically prepared for the consequences of the act. This is the basis for adult societyís concern about adolescent sex because risks are magnified in this group."

UPPI has proposed that young Filipinosí connection with family, school and church be strengthened to ensure that they would not go astray.

"The social environment of adolescents is critical to their health (and) development," Raymundo said. "Connectedness with family, school and church are usually protective factors while lack of connectedness with these elements of the environment increase risk."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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