MANILA, Philippines – Sexual orientation and gender identity and expression advocates are calling for responsible conversations on SOGIE equality amid the increasing amount of hate affecting online exchanges on the topic.
They made the appeal at the launch of the #HumanizingSOGIE national campaign held on Thursday, September 6, at the Canadian Ambassador’s Official Residence in Makati. (READ: [OPINION | Dash of SAS] Humanizing SOGIE)
“So much hate has been going on in such an active conversation on social media, so I would like to enjoin everyone – I hope we engage in responsible conversations and I hope we remain committed to making sure we speak from the point of love and impartiality instead of from a point of discord,” said Quezon City Councilor Lena Marie “Mayen” Juico.
“As we speak, so many young people, so many people from the LGBT community are experiencing discrimination,” she added.
There were profiles on display at the launch which gave glimpses of the experiences of discrimination suffered by members of the LGBTQ+ community.
In his profile, BPO agent Bigel Miranda relayed his experience of employment discrimination at a human resource agency for a Laguna-based semiconductor facility.
“I had an interview scheduled for employment. But when they saw me, they said they don’t hire people from the LGBTQ+ community,” he said.
Filmmaker and human rights activist Rhadem Morados, for his part, said he was required to get an HIV test prior to a colonoscopy at a public hospital because of his sexual orientation.
“I went to the state hospital in Mindanao for a colonoscopy. The medical staff required me to have an HIV test first just because I am gay,” Morados said.
Betting on information
For gender equality organization SPARK! Philippines, there is a stronger need to share firsthand narratives of discrimination.
“By shining a light on the stories of real Filipinos with diverse experiences, the campaign aims to challenge preconceptions about what it means to be LGBTQ+ in the Philippines,” said SPARK! Executive Director Maica Teves.
With support from the Canadian government and in partnership with Love is All We Need and Propel Manila, SPARK!, through the #HumanizingSOGIE campaign, hopes that those who visit the exhibit would be encouraged to join the call for greater inclusion and equality.
“People hate what they don’t know,” shared TransMan Pilipinas founder Nil Nodalo.
After recounting the impact of different forms of discrimination on himself and other members of the community, Nodalo leaned towards the transformative power of empathy.
“Mas maiintindihan nila kami through education. I mean, once na hindi mo talaga alam ang isang bagay, mahihirapan kang tanggapin or intindihin e (They’ll understand us better through education. I mean, you’ll have a hard time accepting or understanding something if you don’t really know it),” Nodalo said.
Von Carolino, a subject of the exhibit and the commissioner for gender equality at Ateneo de Manila University’s student council, saw an opportunity in the exhibit’s proactive education approach.
“I think we need to take a step back and be more patient with the people who disagree with us,” Carolino shared.
When asked about the growing online hate over recent comments made by legislators and religious groups against the current version of the SOGIE equality bill, Carolino acknowledged the right of the LGBTQ+ community to be outraged, but also asked for more understanding.
“I absolutely reject their notions of discrimination, and it is burdensome to live in fear and and insecurity. At the same time, I also consider that they were raised in a society that taught them to believe that gender is black and white,” Carolino added.
Through tireless persuasion and awareness campaigns like #HumanizingSOGIE, Carolino sees more people joining the call for SOGIE equality. (EXPLAINER: What you need to know about SOGIE)
“While sometimes, we give into the urge of responding [with hate], we should try to adopt the position of trying to inform them properly of the matter: of why gender is fluid or why we deserve the rights we clamor for,” he said. – Rappler.com
Jaia Yap is a Rappler intern with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of the Philippines Diliman. He tweets at @jaiayap.