Content warning: This story contains an account of violence against the LGBTQIA+.
It’s harrowing to hear when a member of the LGBTQIA+ community has been subjected to homophobic violence. Even more so when the perpetrators attack our siblings as a joke, as if our lives are inconsequential.
That is exactly what we see in a viral video of an assault against a gay man that occurred in Zamboanga City.
In the video, a group of teenagers were walking along Toribio Street in Barangay Tetuan at dawn on Aug. 15 when they passed by a gay man. Without provocation, one of the boys ran after him and gave him a flying kick to the head. The rest of the boys chased and jeered the victim as he attempted to flee.
Officials from Tetuan and neighboring barangays conducted a joint search for the suspects after the video gained traction. On Aug. 18, they apprehended seven minors, aged 15 to 17, and an eighth suspect of legal age. When asked why they did it, the suspects confessed, “Tripping lang.” The act has been condemned by local LGBTQIA+ advocates and officials, as reported in MindaNews on Sunday, Aug. 22.
Camino Nuevo barangay chairman Norberto Monopolio said in a statement on Aug. 20 that the suspects’ parents were summoned to the barangay hall but did not show up. Neither did the victim, prompting the group’s release after 72 hours in custody. However, they are currently under supervision of the barangay as they render community service.
Zamboanga City’s focal person for gender and advocacy Wilfredo Aporongao said, “Our office has been at the forefront in raising awareness on the different laws protecting our constituents, and advocating for anti-discrimination is one. The Gender and Development Section of the Office of the City Mayor deeply condemns such acts of violence.”
Lesbian Gay Bisexuals and Transgenders Federation of Zamboanga (LGBTFZ) president Alvin Toni Fernandez stated that the city’s Anti-Discrimination Law should be heeded, noting that there have been several other incidents of anti-LGBTQIA+ violence. In one of the cases mentioned, five trans women were hit with paddles and had their hair cut off at the Barangay Sta. Maria police station after allegedly breaking curfew rules.
“Even with the existing ordinance, there is still a need to conduct education in values or in teachings of religion up to the grassroots. Ta mira bajo siemprecanamon (They still look down on us),” Fernandez stated. “Our police forces also need the education itself; we need to intensify the educational system’s understanding of gender and development and really include this in the curriculum, perhaps in values education.”
The case further proves the need for a national Anti-Discrimination Law. Together we demand the swift passage of the bill and justice for our LGBTQIA+ siblings.