A militant lawmaker on Saturday welcomed the move of the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality to approve the amended substitute bill declaring May 17 of every year as the “National Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.”
Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate was referring to the unnumbered bill substituted House Bill 4413 and 8364 which he was among the main authors. The committee is chaired by Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy of Bagong Henerasyon party-list.
Zarate said May 17 is known as the “International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia” or IDAHO in commemoration of that day in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its International Classification of Mental Disorders.
“Every year on this date, people all over the world pause and ponder on the high human and social cost of discrimination, violence and harassment against LGBTs all over the world, especially in 80 countries where acts, speeches, works, and other things related to same-sex and same-gender relations are still punished or fined,” said Zarate.
He said that in some countries such as Uganda, there is even a pending legislation making homosexuality punishable by death.
Zarate said that despite modest gains in social and legal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTs) in the Philippines, much still has to be done for them to achieve full legal and social equality.
“Thousands of LGBTs still suffer the harsh reality of homophobia [fear of homosexuals] and transphobia [fear of transgenders] in their daily lives,” Zarate explained.
He said that many are refused employment, the use of public facilities or health care services, among others, because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Zarate said that of late, there have been increasing reports of violent crimes perpetrated against LGBTs.
He said that while laws protecting marginalized sectors such as women, children, migrants, national minorities, and the elderly have been passed, Congress has yet to pass measures protecting the rights of the LGBTs.
Under the bill, the National Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia shall be commemorated in the Philippines every year in recognition of the rights of LGBTs in the country and the need to end the discrimination, oppression and intolerance they are faced with in society.
As provided, all government offices, private institutions, schools, colleges and universities are hereby encouraged to extend their full support for exercises and activities in the observance, promotion and protection of LGBT rights.