MANILA, Philippines - Besides rescuing thousands of Filipino guest workers trapped in turbulent Arab countries, the newly appointed secretary of foreign affairs faces demands from gays agitating for human rights protection in the United Nations.
The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines or PROGAY is urging acting secretary Albert Del Rosario to make sure the country votes to affirm the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, at transgender in the Human Rights Council on March 9.
In an letter sent by the gay rights movment to the DFA and the Offices of the Permanent Representatives in Geneva and New York, the Aquino administration was asked to sign, defend and support the “Joint statement on ending acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity”.
In essence, the Joint Statement calls on UN Member States to take steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
If the Joint Statement passes, the United Nations will be tasked to use its Special Procedures, treaty bodies and its accredited groups process LGBT rights issues.
PROGAY’s spokesperson Goya Candelario cited the use by the Philippine National Police of the Anti-Vagrancy Law, a Spanish-era decree, to arrest, hurt and shame gay men and transgenders. He added that there are unjust sodomy laws in 70 countries such as Uganda and Jamaica that punishes LGBTs with either prison terms or the death penalty.
PROGAY also expressed dismay on learning that the former DFA chief that Del Rosario replaced, Alberto Romulo, is positioning himself to be appointed by President Aquino to the post of UN Permanent Representative in New York. PROGAY is still smarting from Romulo’s supposed snub of LGBT concerns and demands.
“Under Romulo’s watch, the DFA’s voting record in UN assemblies is so vexing. Just last December, we asked Romulo to vote for the protection of LGBTs on the “Resolution on Extrajudicial, Summary, and Arbitrary Killings” and there was no affirmative action,” Candelaria said.
PROGAY said that UN Permanent Representative Libran Cabactulan abstained, an action that activists say is the same as voting No. The protection for “sexual orientation” in the Resolution was restored despite the abstention of the Philippine representative.
“The washing of hands by Romulo at Cabactulan sends a message to the LGBT communities that the Aquino administration sits well with extrajudicial killings meted on homosexuals and transgenders,” Candelario said.
PROGAY challenged the President to base his choice for the UN Permanent Representative on proactive consultation with community stakeholders, and let the voting reflect genuine human development goals, and not on political horsetrading with rich and powerful UN members.
PROGAY is a group of gay men that aims to gain full recognition of the different sectors of the society to all sexual minorities and be freed from sexual discrimination in their family, their community, the government, church and media. It was founded in September 1993 by a group of gay student activists that tried to develop the concept of the roles of the gay Filipinos.