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Transgender groups in the Philippines call on government to pass laws to protect LGBTIs

Transgender groups in the Philippines call on government to pass laws to protect LGBTIs

Transgender groups including the Association of Transgender People in the Philippines (ATP) have renewed their calls for the government to take more proactive steps to protect members of the LGBTI community.

The ATP and other LGBTI community groups held a press conference at the Quezon City Memorial Circle on Saturday following the brutal murder of Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman, last Saturday. She was found dead with her head in a toilet bowl in a motel.

Dindi Tan, a board member of the ATP and staff member of the office of the Mayor for the Quezon City Pride Council – according to her Facebook page, said in a Facebook post that the community press conference was the first to be organized by the transgender community. LGBTI groups delivered their own press statements while congreswoman Rep. Kaka J. Bag-ao and Senator Bam Aquino sent statements in solidarity.

A US Marine, identified as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton, has been charged with Laude’s murder.

Tan says the government should immediately pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill and Gender Recognition Bill to help prevent hate crimes against the transgender community, according to a Rappler report.

She added that Laude’s death was the second such case in a month.

Another transgender woman Norlan Cielo Mercado was found murdered on September 23. According to news reports, she was killed three days earlier and had 18 stabs wound in the chest, back, and head.

Tan says the deaths are a clear example of hate crimes targeted against the transgender community and many more are vulnerable to the same threat.

‘Losing a trans sister in the community speaks volumes about how trans-Pinays in the country are still fighting hard for government recognition and the protection of our rights. I can’t help wondering: How many more Jennifers do we have to lose just for the government to start taking affirmative measures to protect LGBT welfare?’ she was quoted as saying on Rappler.

Tan says while the group has been conducting seminars and community dialogues to empower members of the transgender community, the government has to do its part as well.

‘The rising incidents of [hate] crimes against our persons is [indicative of] a virtual ticking bomb waiting to explode unless the government passes national legislation like the Anti-Discrimination Bill and Gender Recognition Bill that would effectively address cases of this nature,’ she said.

‘There’s a huge difference between being accepted and being tolerated,’ she added.

Last week, senator Bam Aquino called for harsher punishments for hate crimes against LGBTI people in the wake of the murder of transgender woman Jennifer Laude.

‘We should impose heavier penalties so that these discriminatory and inhumane acts will be eradicated,’ he said in a press statement.

The Anti-Discrimination Act of 2014, which was co-authored by Aquino and seeks to ban and punish discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, civil status, HIV status and other medical conditions, has yet to be passed.

A protest (National Day of Outrage: #JusticeForJennifer) will be held on Oct 24, 4pm at Quezon City (UP Sunken Garden), Cebu City (venue TBA) and Legaspi City (venue TBA).