Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez and Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao drew upon the recent brutal murder of Jennifer Laude allegedly by a US serviceman and which is popularly believed to be a manifested hate crime because the victim was a transgender woman.
“Akbayan is seriously studying the possibility of filing an anti-hate measure that will increase the protection of members of the LGBT community who remain vulnerable to various forms of violence and crimes due to their sexual preference. We have tinkered with this before and Jennifer’s killing has created a new urgency,” Gutierrez said.
“We need to exert a firm action to deter perpetrators from committing these crimes that stem from no particular reason other than their own prejudice based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and expression,” he added.
Gutierrez said the bill under consultation aims to strengthen protection of the LGBT community by ensuring it will not muzzle people’s freedom of expression with regards to sexual identity and orientation; by including as an aggravating circumstance to crimes against such persons and qualifying it as a crime of higher penalty; and by studying the manner by which ‘hate crimes’ may be proven, given the existing definitions of crimes.
Gutierrez said that the opinion and views of the LGBT community will be duly and extensively sought in the crafting of the proposed measure.
“We hope to set in place the fitting penalties that will deter the perpetrators from committing these acts and allow the LGBT people to openly express their sexual orientation,” the lawmaker said.
The lawmakers also urged Congress to swiftly and immediately pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill, saying this will usher in much-needed action to secure the rights and welfare of the LGBT community. The House Bill 110 filed on July 1, 2013 seeks to prohibit all forms of discrimination and to provide penalties against discriminatory practices on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
“It is our duty to create safer spaces for Filipino LGBTs. By passing legislation against discrimination and hate crimes, we can ensure that the rights, welfare, and dignity of our fellow citizens are upheld and protected” said Bag-ao, the principal author of the bill.
Several of the larger cities have passed ordinances banning LGBT discrimination, but efforts to pass a national law continues to be blocked and that hate crimes against the LGBT community remain a distressing threat, confirmed by a recent UN-sponsored study that has confirmed that gay people in the Philippines continue to face discrimination despite pockets of increased tolerance.