Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Militant lawmaker: Same-sex marriage law hard to push but worth it

Militant lawmaker: Same-sex marriage law hard to push but worth it

Casiño says debate tends to strengthen constituency for gay rights

By Vincent Cabreza

Inquirer Northern Luzon

7:38 pm | Sunday, June 26th, 2011

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BAGUIO CITY, Philippines —The fifth Baguio Gay Pride celebration, which was led by homosexuals dressed as fairies and “Goddesses of Equality,” proceeded on Sunday despite heavy and continuous rains.

The parade honored the solemnization of the unions of eight gay couples, who were “wed” by pastors of the Metropolitan Community Church at a local bar on Saturday.

Cyrene Reyes, one of the Baguio Pride Network organizers, said the parade also celebrated the legalization of same-sex unions in New York, where the 1969 Stonewall riots were ignited by a standoff between a gay community in Greenwich Village there and the New York police.

The Stonewall incident inspired the international gay rights movement, which fought for laws criminalizing gay discrimination and which pushed co-habitation rights of same-sex couples.

But a measure that would legalize same-sex unions in the Philippines, as well as a law that would allow them to adopt children, “is farthest from our minds at the moment,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño.

Casiño was here to draw support for House Bill No. 1483 (Anti-Discrimination Act of 2010), a measure penalizing people who discriminate against homosexuals.

Casiño said HB 1483, if passed, would also make the state recognize other sexual orientations.

This bill is the third measure that proposes to update Philippine standards on sexuality and domestic relationships, next to the more controversial Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011 (HB 4244) and the Divorce Bill (HB 1799), according to Casiño.

He said the Catholic Church has described the confluence of these civil rights bills as an assault on morality.

“But there was no deliberate design to advocate all these bills at the same time in Congress,” he said. “We only have three years [to promote civil rights legislation of this nature], and we are glad when Congress finally discusses them on plenary, like the RH bill.”

Casiño said activist lawmakers have been competing with their colleagues, “and just seeing our bills selected for hearing by congressional committees is already a thrill.”

There have been failed attempts to legislate laws on discrimination, reproductive health and divorce, “but these ideas have generated a healthy public support this year,” which have prompted Congress to address these concerns, Casiño said.

These are relatively easier measures to pass, compared to proposals for legitimizing same-sex unions, and laws allowing same-sex couples to adopt children “which are too far beyond our [society’s] understanding.”

He said the most important consequence of pursuing these measures would be to widen the public constituency that believe in gay rights, reproductive health and divorce for battered women as legitimate concerns.

Casiño said he would seek a congressional inquiry into hate crimes against gays uncovered by the Philippine LGBT Crime Watch, an online organization linked by social networking site, Facebook.

He said the group claimed that 97 homosexuals have been murdered in the country since 1996. “These reports are culled from news reports so we need to determine whether the murders are directed against gay individuals,” he said.

News Release

June 26, 2011

Reference: BAYAN MUNA Rep. Teddy Casiño, 09209035683

Casiño vows to initiate House probe on hate crimes vs. gays

BAGUIO CITY – Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño today announced that he would initiate an investigation on the alarming number of hate crimes against gays in the country.

The lawmaker made his announcement before delegates of the annual Baguio Pride Parade, which is the highlight of a week of nationwide activities by various lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender goups in the country.

Based on the study of Philippine LGBT Crime Watch, an online organization in Facebook, about 97 gays were violently murdered in the Philippines from 1996 to 2011, with a pronounced rise in gay killings between 2009 and the present year.

“I am alarmed with the rise in hate crimes against gays. From an average of 10 murders between 1996 and 2008, the killings rose to 12 gays slain in 2009, 26 murdered in 2010, and 27 killed in just the first six months of the current year. The killings, the study revealed, involved both male homosexuals and lesbians,” said the progressive solon.

The study also indicated that the killings did not target a specific profile of gays. “Everyone seems vulnerable,”

Quezon City had the highest incidence of gay killings, with at least four victims listed as employees of broadcast networks. These victims were William Castro (DWAN AM radio, March 2005); Eli “Mama Elay” Formaran (entertainment writer, May 2005); Larry Estadarte (Balitang K/ABS-CBN program researcher, August 2005); and Joselito Siervo (executive producer Pinoy Dream Academy, November 2006).

About 42 of the 97 reported cases of gays killed happened in the Greater Manila Area, with Quezon City claiming 15 gays slain.

Casiño has filed HB 1483 or An Act Defining Discrimination on the Basis Of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Providing Penalties Therefor that seeks to define and penalize, for the first time, what are considered discriminatory acts against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs) and HB 4653 that would make May 17 a National Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, or NADAHO, our own localized version of IDAHO these type of heinous crime is escalating.

“LGBTs do not want “special” or “additional rights.” These bills aim to advance the observance of the same rights as those of heterosexual persons that are denied to them – either by current laws or practices – basic civil, political, social and economic rights. It is also about time that the abuses are corrected through penalties because they destroy self-esteem and value, ruin lives and even cause suicides and isolation. The right to choose whoever we love is basic and universal. Nobody is licensed to inflict pain, trample dignity, or violate the human rights of anyone because he or she is gay. Despite our differences, we are all human beings with equal rights,” ended Casiño. # # #


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