PH RANKS AMONG MOST GAY-FRIENDLY IN THE WORLD
MANILA, JUNE 10, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Philip C. Tubeza - The Philippines has earned its ranking as one of few gay-friendly countries in the world.
Of the 39 countries covered by a global survey, only 17 countries had majorities that accepted homosexuality, with the Philippines ranking at number 10 among the 17.
Despite its religiosity, the Philippines is one of the countries in the world where the level of public “acceptance” of homosexuals is high, according to the results of the survey.
The survey titled “The Global Divide on Homosexuality” conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center showed that 73 percent of adult Filipinos agreed with the statement that “homosexuality should be accepted by society,” up by nine percentage points from 2002.
The percentage of Filipinos who said society should not accept gays fell from 33 percent in 2002 to 26 percent this year, it added.
This high level of acceptance, which is comparable to that found in secular western Europe, is even higher than those found in Japan (54 percent), South Korea (39 percent) or the United States (60 percent), where some states allow gay marriage.
“Brazilians and Filipinos are considerably more tolerant of homosexuality than their countries’ relatively high levels of religiosity would suggest,” the Pew survey report said.
The Philippines bucked the trend found in the survey showing that gays are mostly accepted in rich and secularized countries.
“The survey … finds that acceptance of homosexuality is particularly widespread in countries where religion is less central in people’s lives. These are also among the richest countries in the world,” the Pew report said.
“In contrast, in poorer countries with high levels of religiosity, few believe homosexuality should be accepted by society,” it added.
The Philippines is said to be one of the most religious countries in the world and almost a third of its population lives below the poverty line. In the survey’s “religiosity scale” where a score of “3” was the most religious, the Philippines almost got 2.5.
“Age is also a factor in several countries, with younger respondents offering far more tolerant views than older ones,” the survey report said.
And while gender differences are not prevalent, in those countries where they are, women are consistently more accepting of homosexuality than men,” it added.
In the Philippines, 78 percent of those aged 18-29 who were interviewed said gays should be accepted, 71 percent for those aged 30-49, and 68 percent for those 50 years old and above, according to the survey.
The report also showed that of the eight countries surveyed in the Asia-Pacific region, the Philippines had the second highest acceptance rate next to Australia’s 79 percent.
“In the Asia-Pacific region, where views of homosexuality are mostly negative, more than seven in 10 in Australia and the Philippines say homosexuality should be accepted by society,” the report said.
In contrast, only three percent of people in neighboring Indonesia, nine percent in Malaysia and 21 percent in China said homosexuality should be accepted, the report added.
However, Filipino gay groups were not impressed by the survey results.
When asked if the gay community in the Philippines felt accepted, Jonas Bagas, executive director of the TLF Share Collective, said: “Hardly.”
“I think that the study only reflects the perceived acceptance of the LGBT community based on the high visibility of gay entertainers. It’s acceptance [that is] contingent on how you fit the acceptable stereotype—the gay entertainer, the creative, talented bakla, the lesbian security guard,” Bagas said.
“Once you go outside these stereotypes, that’s when you encounter rejection,” he added.
Bagas said a Filipino student in a lesbian relationship faces higher probability of getting kicked out of her school than a student in a heterosexual relationship.
“We still have strong biases against gay sex, which for many is still deemed immoral and unnatural. This attitude fosters inequality in our laws, in education, healthcare and even within the family,” Bagas said.
The Pew report said those who conducted the survey had face-to-face interviews with 804 Filipinos aged 18 and above from March 10 to April 3 this year. The interviews were conducted in Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilonggo, Ilocano and Bicolano.
The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.
LGBT rights in the Philippines Philippines
LGBT citizens may face different social attitudes and legal challenges than heterosexual citizens.
Tolerance for LGBT people has increased over the years due to greater education about sexual orientation and gender identity issues and the growing visibility and political activism of the LGBT community.
Same-sex marriages are not legally recognized and the LGBT community is not protected by any civil rights laws.
Criminal laws against homosexuality
Non-commercial, homosexual relations between consenting adults in private are not a crime, although sexual conduct or affection that occurs in public may be subject to the "grave scandal" prohibition in Article 200 of the Revised Penal Code.
The universal age of consent is set at 12, but contact with minors (under 18) is an offense if the minor consents to the act for money, gain, or any other remuneration or as the result of an influence of any adult person.
Homophobia in the Philippines
The Philippines is a predominantly Christian country, with the majority being Roman Catholic followed by other Christian denominations and a large Muslim minority. like many judeo-christian religions it contain anti-homosexual teachings.
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has always been against gay rights.
The homosexual community in the Philippines is evident in Media, Fashion and the arts.
Homophobia and homophobic statements often get online and media attention. statements from celebrities like Miriam Quiambao, Manny Pacquiao & most recently the article of Christine Bersola-Babao entitled "Being Gay"
Bangon Pilipinas senatorial candidate Eddie Villanueva, a religious leader who founded the Jesus is Lord Church, said he is against same-sex marriage because it is against Biblical teachings.
"Sabi ng Good Book, huwag gayahin 'yung nangyari sa Sodom and Gomorrah dahil darating ang paggunaw sa isang bansa 'pag 'yun ay ginawa, (The good book says, don't do what happened in Sodom and Gommorrah because judgement will befall the country if it should be done.) " Villanueva said in an interview.
Sexual orientation or religion does not exempt citizens from CAT, although some reports do suggest that people who are openly gay in this high school curriculum are harassed.
On 3 March 2009, the Philippines announced that it was lifting its ban on allowing openly gay and bisexual men and women from enlisting and serving in the Philippine Armed Services.
"Sectors" recognised in the national electoral law include categories such as elderly, peasants, labour, youth etc.
Under the Philippine constitution some 20% of seats in the House of Representatives are reserved. In 1995 and 1997, unsuccessful efforts were made to reform the law so as to include LGBT people.
A proponent of this reform was Senate President Pro Tempore Blas Ople who said (in 1997), "In view of the obvious dislike of the ... administration for gay people, it is obvious that the president will not lift a finger to help them gain a sectoral seat."
Political party opinions
Philippine political parties are typically very cautious about supporting gay rights, as most fall along the social conservative political spectrum.
The Akbayan Citizens' Action Party was the first Philippine political party to integrate LGBT rights into its party platform in the 1990s, although they are a minor political party.
A major political opponent of LGBT rights legislation has been Congressman Bienvenido Abante (6th district, Manila) of the ruling conservative Lakas-CMD party.
Rodolfo Biazon and his son Ruffy Biazon along with Miriam Santiago are the most vocal opponents of same sex marriage in the Philippines. They have filed bills in the Senate and Congress in 2006 that would ban recognition of such marriage, even if those marriages were performed in other countries. As of 2009 the bills are stalled.
The administration of former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was recently called "not just gender insensitive, but gender-dead" by Akbayan Party representative Risa Hontiveros.
Rep. Hontiveros also said that the absence of any policy protecting the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender betrays the government’s homophobia. “This homophobic government treats LGBTs as second-class citizens,” she said.
Philippines did not sign the United Nations declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, which condemns violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization, and prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Ang Ladlad LGBT political party
The Ang Ladlad is a new progressive political party, with a primary agenda of combating discrimination and harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
On 11 November 2009, the Philippine Commission on Elections(COMELEC) denied the Filipino LGBT political party Ang Ladlad's petition to be allowed to run in the May 2010 elections, on the grounds of "immorality".
In the 2007 elections, Ang Ladlad was previously disqualified for failing to prove they had nationwide membership.
On 8 April 2010, the Supreme Court of the Philippines reversed the ruling of COMELEC and allowed Ang Ladlad to join the May 2010 elections.
Marriage and family
The Philippines does not offer any legal recognition to same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnership benefits.
In 1998, Senators Marcelo B. Fernan and Miriam Defensor Santiago submitted a series of four bills that barred recognition of marriage involving transgender individuals, contracted in the Philippines or abroad, and bar recognition of marriages or domestic partnership between two people of the same biological sex contracted in countries that legally recognize such relationships.
Since 2006, three anti-same sex marriage bills have been introduced and are pending before the Senate and Congress.
In early 2011, Rep. Rene Relampagos of Bohol filed a bill to amend Article 26 of the Philippine Family Code, to prohibit "forbidden marriages." Specifically, this seeks to bar the Philippine state from recognizing same-sex marriages contracted overseas. The bill is in committee.
The main gay rights organisations in the Philippines are University of the Philippines Babaylan UP Babaylan founded in 1992, and is the oldest and largest LGBT student organization in the Philippines, Progay-Philippines, founded in 1993, which led the first Gay March in Asia in 1994, LAGABLAB, the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network established in 1999, STRAP (Society of Transsexual WOMEN of the Philippines), a Manila-based support group for women of transsexual experience and transgenders established in 2002, and Philippine Forum on Sports, Culture, Sexuality and Human Rights (TEAM PILIPINAS), a non-profit organization which evolved from the Team Philippines to Sydney 2002 Gay Games and is now working to promote and strengthen human rights, sexual and gender diversity and equality and peace through research and advocacy and through organizing the participation and representation of diverse Filipino sexual orientations and gender identities in local, regional and international LGBT sporting, cultural and human rights events.
The first gay lesbian bisexual and transgender pride parade in Asia and also the Philippines was led by ProGay Philippines on 26 June 1994 at the Quezon Memorial Circle. It was attended by hundreds and the march coincided with the march against the imposition of the VAT or the value added tax imposed by the government.
Since the 1990s LGBT people have become more organized and visible, both politically and socially. There are large annual LGBT pride festivals, and several LGBT organizations which focus on the concerns of University students, women and transgender people.
There is a vibrant gay scene in the Philippines with several bars, clubs and saunas in Manila as well as various gay rights organizations.
Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi
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