MANILA, Philippines — Member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and LGBTQIA+ rights organizations are calling on the Philippines to protect LGBTQIA+ Filipinos from discrimination.
The call was made after the UNHRC conducted its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Philippines on November 14. This is the fourth time the council has conducted the UPR for the Philippines, with the first, second and third UPR underway. in 2008, 2012 and 2017, respectively.
During the UPR, member states develop recommendations for adoption by the Philippine government. These recommendations are intended to guide action to address human rights issues.
The Philippines UPR received a total of nine recommendations and two comments on the rights of LGBTQIA+ people from the governments of Argentina, Belgium, Chile, the Czech Republic, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Sweden, the United States of America, and Mexico.
“—Accelerate the efforts to approve the law on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression and the comprehensive law against discrimination”, said the Ambassador of Mexico when presenting these recommendations.
Meanwhile, 13 LGBTQIA+ organizations in the Philippines jointly prepared and provided a report on the situation of LGBTQIA+ human rights.
He pointed to the failed attempts to pass national legislation, despite previous UPR recommendations that were also specific to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC), on anti-discrimination laws as one of the critical concerns for LGBTQIA+ rights.
In addition, he also noted that, as of yet, the Philippines still does not have comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to protect LGBTQIA+ Filipinos.
This is despite the fact that in the 2017 UPR report, the Philippines already received two specific SOGIESC-related human rights recommendations from Australia and Mexico.
Meanwhile, CEO of LGBTQIA+ rights group Asean SOGIE Caucus, Ryan Silverio, said that “the Philippine government remains unclear on its position on advancing LGBTQIA+ human rights in the country.”
“Through the UPR, we hope that a dialogue can be generated to encourage the government to engage and take clear steps towards an inclusive SOGIESC society. In the absence of redress mechanisms, we value the UPR as a venue to raise key concerns, including the decades-long delay in passing inclusive SOGIESC anti-discrimination legislation, the ongoing social stigma that denies transgender and queer students access to education, and the red tagging of LGBTQIA+ activists,” he said.
According to advocates, the recommendations were consistent with the advocacy agenda of the LGBTQIA+ movement: pass comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that protects the rights of all people based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual characteristics, passing legislation that prohibits hate crimes against LGBTQIA+ people, and repealing legislation that violates the human rights of transgender people, are the common recommendations raised by different Member States.
“Young people around the world are fighting for equality and inclusion. We know that the fight for equality transcends generations: to honor those who fought before us and to protect the next generation from violence and hate. We continue to affirm that LGBTQIA+ rights are basic human rights,” said Vince Liban, National Coordinator for Pantay.
“The inclusion of the Philippines LGBTQIA+ situation in the UPR will not only be a prudent step, but a huge step forward for our dream as queer Filipinos to be recognised, seen and reclaimed our rightful place in the world,” he said. additional.
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