UNDP and USAID convene national LGBT dialogue
Manila, Philippines. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community leaders and human rights advocates from around the Philippines gathered in Manila over the past two days to share knowledge and skills in an event organized by UNDP, USAID and TLF SHARE, Inc. This event, the Philippines National LGBT Community Dialogue raised many human rights issues of concern for LGBT communities and builds on the vibrant community to strategize and plan for advancing equality for LGBT people.
There has been significant progress in the Philippines in protecting the rights of LGBT people, in recent years the city governments of Cebu, Davao and Angeles passing local anti-discrimination ordinances barring unfair treatment in critical spheres of life such as workplaces and schools. However there is still a long way to go to ensure equality and inclusion of LGBT in the country. National legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is yet to be enacted, there is still no LGBT representation in the Congress of the Philippines and stigma and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity still exists in education, employment and the provision of goods and services. Shockingly, violence, rape and murder still threaten many LGBT people.
Toshihiro Tanaka, UNDP Philippines Country Director said, “The United Nations promotes and upholds the rights of every human being. Without exception, human rights apply to everyone, including LGBT people. This event will give us better understanding of the LGBT human rights situation in the country and how it can be better promoted.”
Community leaders and advocates brought up the importance of comprehensive anti-discrimination protections and further cooperation between the government and LGBT community to educate more policy makers and government workers on the human rights issues faced by LGBT people, much like the gender and sexuality training workshop to police officers conducted by Ging Cristobal of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Raymond Alikpala, author of the "God Loves Bakla" (titled, "Of God and Men" for international release) in partnership with the Philippine National Police Human Rights Affairs Office (PNP-HRAO).
The results of this initiative will help develop critical understanding of the enabling and hindering factors of human rights issues facing LGBT people in the country. This will be used to guide UNDP, USAID, multi-lateral organizations, development partners, and governments at all levels to better engage and meet the needs of LGBT communities.
U.S. Embassy Manila’s USAID Mission Director Gloria D. Steele said, “The rights of LGBT people must be respected everywhere. The results of this activity will serve as a guide for development partners and governments at all levels to improve their engagement in addressing the needs of LGBT communities more effectively.”
“As LGBT rights advocates, our agenda is clear: we want full equality for all Filipinos. With this process we hope to a new conversation about human rights and social justice in the Philippines, one that is directed towards the inclusion of all, regardless of one’s sexual orientation and gender identity” added by Jonas Bagas, the Executive Director of TLF SHARE Inc.
The event is supported by Being LGBT in Asia, a groundbreaking joint initiative between UNDP and USAID, and is being implemented in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Being LGBT in Asia is working with LGBT communities, universities and human rights organizations to gain insights into the challenges and successes of LGBT communities in Asia.