Vilma Santos is not just a star. She’s a government employee who knows what her constituents need, especially those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. She has recently filed House Bill No. 2952, which aims to establish LGBT help desks in all Philippine National Police (PNP) stations.
According to the bill, “the Philippines has yet to affirm the rights of LGBT individuals or guarantee the protection of LGBTs from discrimination and violence on the account of gender identity and expression.”
It adds, “back home, many LGBTs became moving targets for discrimination and violence that affect their economic, social, and physiological well-being. Yet in spite of this reality, there is an absence of government mechanism or intervention directed to monitor, let alone address, the incidents of discrimination, prejudice, and even violence against the Filipino LGBT community. Because of this, many LGBT victims opt not to report the incident for fear of further harassment, prejudicial treatment, or more violent reprisal.”
According to the website Outrage, there are no conclusive data on the number of crimes against the LGBT community. The data frequently cited is from the “now-defunct Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, which reported around 164 cases of murdered LGBT people in the country from 1996 to June 2012.” Because of this, the exact number of crimes is unknown.
One of the most famous cases is the murder of transwoman Jennifer Laude by Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton. It was reported that he was unaware that she was transgender. Outrage adds that the PNP and the court’s official documentation misgendered Laude throughout the case.
Through the LGBT help desk, Rep. Santos hopes to act on “all cases involving crimes against chastity, sexual harassment, and abuses against LGBTs in the Philippines,” and to “to ensure the gender neutrality of its human resource processes, from the recruitment and selection to the promotion and deployment of police officers.”
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