In 1998, a police act in the Philippines led to the creation of dedicated desks in police stations across the country after society realized crimes against women and children needed a different perspective with the victims needing greater sensitivity and support.
Run by female police officers, these desks now exclusively handle crimes against women and children.
Now Philippine Congresswoman Sol Aragones is seeking similar LGBT desks in every police station to handle hate crimes against the community.
Aragones has filed a bill that, if approved, would amend the Philippine National Police Reform and Reorganization Act of 1998 and enable the creation of the LGBT desks.
The initiative comes after rights organizations reported a significant number of rights violations suffered by the LGBT community.
At the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review this year, non-profit bodies like Rainbow Rights Project and the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch had jointly submitted a report on the different abuses LGBT members faced based on sexual orientation and gender identity since 2007.
‘There can be no true and meaningful democracy if we continue to systematically oppress the LGBT sector,’ Aragones told the media.
Though the Philippines takes a liberated view of its LGBT community, still there are efforts to suppress homosexuality, especially under the drive of the powerful Catholic church that is also opposed to abortion.
The spate of crimes against the community prompted the Commission on Human Rights this year to decide to record these hate crimes separately.
Commission chair Loretta Rosales said the need was felt since the crimes were uncommon, with the victims coming from marginal and discriminated sectors of society.
‘These are people who are discriminated against — shot, tortured, robbed — because of anger over their sexual orientation,’ she remarked to the media.
The commission is now working on creating a data base of LGBT hate crimes so that it leads to better prosecution and investigation.
The Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, a hate crime watchdog, says between 1996 and June 2012, there have been around 164 cases of documented murder of LGBTs. Seventeen of them occurred in 2012 alone.
But the number could be far more since there is no mechanism to identify hate crime victims.
‘We don’t know how many more have been killed over the years,’ said Marlon Lacsamana of the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch.
‘The government needs to recognize, investigate, document and prosecute hate crimes.’