Philippinos react to UN chief’s condemnation of gay ‘bullying’ as grave human rights abuse

United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday stepped into the growing social phenomenon of “homophobic bullying” by denouncing sustained verbal abuse, taunting, and serious physical attacks against children as young as 11 “because of their presumed sexual orientation or gender identity.”

“This is a moral outrage, a grave violation of human rights, and a public health crisis,” Ban said in a message in line with a human rights event in New York City. While describing this problem as a “shared challenge” for all members of society, the UN leader emphasized the responsibility of States because it is, for them, “a matter of legal obligation.”

“Under international human rights law, all States must take the necessary measures to protect people – all people – from violence and discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Ban said.

Suicide

He said countries should stop homophobic bullying because “it affects young people all the way through to adulthood, causing enormous and unnecessary suffering.” “Bullied children may become depressed and drop out of school. Some are even driven to suicide,” Ban added.

Ban’s remarks coincidentally came as the Philippine Senate passed an anti-discrimination bill on third reading. In a text message to GMA News Online, Ladlad — a Filipino group that advocates the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community — expressed support for Ban’s statement against homophobic bullying.

“Karapatan po nating lahat kasama ang mga Pilipinong LGBT ang mag-aral, magtrabaho, at mamuhay nang hindi sinasaktan. Kami po ay mga Pilipino na protected ng Constitution at ang marami po sa ami’y taxpayers,” Ladlad said in a statement.

Debate in social media networks flared over the past few days amid reports that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) wants to remove the gay rights provisions of the Anti-Ethnic, Racial, or Religious Discrimination and Profiling Act of 2011, which passed third reading at the Senate last month.

At a weekly forum in San Juan, CBCP lawyer Ronald Reyes said the bill is “opening the door for same-sex marriages, which our country doesn’t allow,” according to a “Philippine Daily Inquirer” report last Wednesday. The same report quoted another CBCP lawyer, Jo Imbong, as saying that the LGBT sector shouldn’t be likened to “the elderly, the handicapped, and the poor.”

“These people are disadvantaged not by their own choice. But the third sex, they choose this. How can you give protection to a choice like that?” Imbong reportedly said.

Earlier this month, another issue involving homosexuality – this time in showbiz – generated heated online interest and discussion.

In an opinion piece for GMA News Online, writer Katrina Stuart-Santiago said forcing actor Piolo Pascual to admit his purported homosexuality, after his publicized break-up with actress KC Concepcion, is the act of persons who are “hopelessly homophobic.”

‘To avoid prejudice’

A version of the Anti-Discrimination Bill, which was principally authored and sponsored by Senator Loren Legarda, may be accessed through the Senate website.

The uploaded version is not updated, said one of Legarda’s staff members who is processing GMA News Online’s request for the bill’s newest update.

“Through this proposed measure, we should be able to avoid unnecessary prejudice and other forms of intolerance and give equal opportunity to each individual to achieve his full potential as a person and as a Filipino citizen,” Legarda said in a statement. — ELR/VS, GMA News

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