Gay rights activists in the Philippines have warned that a new cybercrime law will lead to extortion and harassment of trans people by the police.
ProGay Philippines say they are particularly concerned about the vague definition of ‘cybersex crime’ in the legislation which carries penalties of six years in jail or a 500,000 Pesos fine ($12,000, €9,300).
‘There are many transgenders who are forced by poverty into baring their bodies before a webcam just to feed their families and send their siblings to school, and they are unwilling victims of trafficking by profiteers,’ said secretary general of ProGay Baguio Clyde Pumihic.
‘This law can potentially double the victimization of poor trans and gay persons.’
ProGay Philippines are also concerned that the criminalization of paying for sex online will lead to more real-life encounters and an increase in HIV and STD transmission.
‘Consenting online sex using just shared images and words in real time are a safer alternative to meeting strangers who may use force to commit unsafe sex or life-threatening violent behaviour,’ said Pumihic, appealing to the Supreme Court to declare the law unconstitutional because of invasion of privacy.
ProGay Philippines called on the President to pass the much-delayed anti-discrimination bill instead and to provide employment opportunities for trans Filipinos so they don’t become tempted by sex work.
President Benigno Aquino III signed the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 into law on 12 September, and concerns have also been raised about the law’s potential infringement on freedom of speech.