This past March, I covered a story on Jennifer Laude, a trans woman who was a sex worker who was brutally murdered by one of her clients, Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton. This case is just one of twenty nine documented cases of transgender people who have been murdered in the Philippines since 2008, which is the highest number of cases in South East Asia. The current Pemberton case uses the defense of “trans-panic,” and while the murder is still being tried between the United States and the Philippines, if his defense is believed, then his case sets a dangerous global precedent.
But in a country that is deemed to be pretty “liberal” in terms of their record on LGBT rights, how is this possible? It is true that homosexuality is not a crime in the Philippines, and there are even anti-discrimination ordinances that have been passed in a few cities. In fact, 70% of Filipino’s polled by the Pew Research Center said that “homosexuality should be ‘accepted by society’.” But the difficulty comes in the fact that there are no legal protections for LGBT couples, and the debate over same sex marriage is at a standstill. Meanwhile, LGBT Filipino’s are still fighting for rights, as the activist community grows and is fighting for nationwide anti-discrimination legislation.
What the Philippines is currently experiencing is an “acceptance gap.” While the majority of people agree that LGBT people should be accepted, in practice, the community is tolerated, and just barely. If the hate crimes are any indication, the transgender community in particular needs to be protected in a much more aggressive way than they currently are. Because if a majority of people are saying that the community should be accepted, then the laws of the land need to reflect the countries attitude.
There are some promising developments, however. There is a growing awareness of the community through activism, and the polled numbers are promising. But beliefs must be followed through with action, and if there is anything to take away from this, tolerating a marginalized group is not wholeheartedly accepting them.
Source: Huffington Post
Mehek Naresh is an Indian American lesbian, living and working in Florida after recently graduating with a Bachelors in Political Science. Her hobbies seeking out small talk with cashiers, reading, and spending more time staring at tumblr than she’d care to admit.