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Philippines' gay rights group respond to Reproductive Health Bill

ProGay Philippines welcome final passage of Reproductive Health Bill, but are still concerned that LGBT people are being ignored
ProGay Philippines at a consultation on LGBT health

A gay rights group in the Philippines has responded to Congress finally passing the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill.

After a 10 year battle between Catholic conservatives and modern pragmatists desperate to tackle the Philippines' high birthrate and poverty, Congress passed the RH Bill at the end of December.

ProGay Philippines lauded the passage of the bill, but said that impoverished LGBT people will continue to suffer.

'Even with RH Law, we cannot afford the doctor visits. In the end, only those who can afford to pay can benefit from new services that the law offers,' said Goya Candelario, ProGay Philippines spokesperson.

The new law will ensure that Filipinos all over the country can access free or subsidized contraception.

Gay men and transgender women will potentially benefit from being able to access free condoms to halt the spread of HIV (a serious concern in the Philippines) and transgender women may have easier access to the contraceptive pill, which they take to get female hormones.

However, whether gay men or transgender women get hold of the birth control methods will be up to local officers' discretion.

ProGay Philippines has been involved in the debate around the RH Bill. They released a statement in August that said the bill would help the fight against HIV in the country.

An earlier version of the bill outlawed discrimination in reproductive healthcare based on sex, age, religion, political affiliation and sexual orientation. But 'sexual orientation' was dropped, an edit that was attributed to President Benigno Aquino.

Candelario said the law would have had a clearer mandate to serve LGBTs if the provision on sexual orientation was included in the final draft.

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