They say we don’t need the SOGIE Equality Bill because it discriminates against non-LGBTQ+ people, and that the community is asking for special treatment. Our own president said he’ll only sign an Anti-Discrimination Bill into law unless it covers the rights of all.
In the middle of the online and offline debates, a transgender woman named Jessa Remiendo was murdered in Pangasinan.
According to police reports cited by Inquirer.net, Jessa was staying with friends when she decided to go out for a walk. She never returned to the house and was found murdered the next day. The police later discovered text messages between Jessa and two guys she was supposed to meet that night. GMA News said witnesses saw no struggle between the victim and the suspects, which means this might be a planned attack.
The motive is still unknown as of writing. But the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has called on the police to ensure Jessa gets justice. “Nobody deserves to have their lives to be curtailed at a whim, let alone that the victim is part of the LGBTQIA+ community, a vulnerable sector of our society,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said in a statement. “This incident reminds us all of the need to continue pushing for a more inclusive society that respects the rule of law and the dignity of everyone—regardless of their race, colour, gender, creed, or class—for we are all humans who are equal before the law, as well as in dignity and rights.”
When people said the plight of the LGBTQ+ community, especially trans people, only revolved around which restroom they can use and what clothes they should wear to the bar, they were terribly mistaken.
READ MORE: QC bans discrimination, but why was a transwoman mistreated in a mall?
Jessa isn’t the first transgender who was killed in our country. The Trans Murder Monitoring Project of Transgender Europe found that 41 transgender people were killed between 2008 and 2016, including the death of Jennifer Laude. This is also the highest in Southeast Asia, which is ironic considering that the Philippines was named one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world in 2013.
Likewise, a “Philippine Journal of Psychology” study from 2014 cited that LGBT Filipinos “were twice as likely to contemplate suicide as their heterosexual peers.” This is mostly due to the discrimination and violence they experience because of their SOGIE.
READ MORE: Understanding what SOGIE means and why it matters
Critics of the SOGIE Equality Bill claim this would affect their freedom of expression and religion and that it will only serve the interests of the LGBTQ+ community. But as Sen. Risa Hontiveros explained on Twitter, “The bill extends equal rights to all persons. Gay or straight, sexual harassment and assault are punishable by law.”
Every time equal rights is championed, be it for IPs, women or PWDs, oppositors are quick to take out the “special rights” card. This is dangerous.
Hindi magkakalaban ang mga karapatan ng mga marhinalisadong sektor. The advancement of one is the advancement of all. pic.twitter.com/BJlzzRtsMt
— risa hontiveros (@risahontiveros) August 28, 2019
The reason why the LGBTQ+ community is fighting for this is because they are tired of being discriminated against when they’re applying for a job or when they are prohibited from entering a public space because their identity. Worse, they experience abuses and are even killed. How dare people say they’re seeking special treatment when they simply want to live safely just like everyone else?
Jessa’s death should be a wake-up call for any person who thinks LGBTQ+ people aren’t fighting for their lives. Because let’s face it, she’s not going to be the last victim unless the government addresses this problem and passes a law that addresses such hate crimes.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
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