Sunday, December 25, 2011

Gays hopeful for repeal of Anti-Vagrancy Law, lessened police brutality

News release
For immediate release
Contact Goya Candelario 0999.5331065

Gays hopeful for repeal of Anti-Vagrancy Law, lessened police brutality

MANILA - Human rights activists are pressing for Congress to finally get rid of the anti-vagrancy law that has made life unbearable for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Filipinos.

The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay) came out in support of House Bill 4936 that passed a third reading in the House of Representatives that would repeal anti-LGBT, anti-women and anti-poor sections that enables the police to arrest persons arbitrarily and detain them for indefinite periods. The Act Decriminalizing Vagrancy is co-sponsored by Palawan Rep. Victorino Dennis Socrates and Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica.

ProGay spokesperson Goya Candelario said that since the 1960s, Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code has made LGBTs vulnerable to illegal arrests. "Cops swoop down on gays and transgenders who are walking in the streets at night or daytime, brand us as prostitutes, jail us, extort money from us, and even subject some of us to sexual abuse," Candelario said.

Many closeted homosexuals are at risk of being shamed or disowned by family, and the arresting officers threaten gays with exposure to the media, forcing the arrested victims to surrender cash, cellphones, or other favors in exchange of getting out of detention.

Oscar Atadero, ProGay's human rights officer, however said repeal of the anti-vagrancy law only partly addresses gross violations of LGBT human rights, because Congress has yet to pass the Antidiscrimination Law or House Bill 1483, filed by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino.

ProGay submitted a report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in November, asking the United Nations to compel the Philippines to decriminalize vagrancy and pass legislation to protect human rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The UNHRC is subjecting the Philippines to its Universal Periodic Review in May 2012 with an increased focus on LGBT rights.

Atadero pointed out that the Aquino administration must speed up its compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) sections that protect the rights of homosexual and transgender Filipinos. ###

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Progay Philippines is a service and advocacy organization that provides counseling, training and education assistance to marginalized gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual Filipinos, especially the youth and the ageing sectors. ProGay initiated Pride traditions in the country when it led the first ever gay and lesbian Pride parade in the entire Asian region on 26 June 1994.

Mailing address:
35 Scout Delgado Street,
Bgy. Laging Handa, Quezon City
1103 Philippines

Telephone: (632) 3712302

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