Karapatan Position Paper on HB 4413, HB 8364, HB 5453

November 14, 2018
Hearing of the Committee on Women and Gender Equality
House of Representatives

To members of the Committee on Women and Gender Equality, to all stake-holders present in today’s hearing, good afternoon. We thank you for inviting our organization in this important hearing.
We express our full support for the following measures:
- House Bill No. 4413 or the “Act Declaring May 17 of Every Year as the National Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and for other purposes”;
- House Bill No. 8364 or the “Act Declaring May 17 of Every Year as the National Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and for other purposes”; and
- House Bill No. 5453 or the “Act Mandating the Observance of 29 November of Every Year as Women Human Rights Defenders Day”
The above-mentioned proposed measures are not merely commemorative events. These measures, if passed, are expressions of the Philippines’ adherence to the concepts of fundamental and basic rights and freedoms as we have committed to under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed fifty years ago.

A once a year national event that expresses the country’s principles against non-discrimination, against the archaic social maladies of homophobia and transphobia, is long overdue. In fact, a law that criminalizes the discrimination of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity is long overdue. It is not merely because we live in the new millennium that such forms of recognition for members of the LGBTQI communities are long overdue. It is the fact that since the UDHR has been signed and adopted, non-discrimination and equality should have been enshrined as among the core values of the nation, including in all spheres of governance.

Bahaghari, a member organization of Karapatan, notes that the prevalent patriarchal, macho and feudal culture that exists in the Philippines is propped up by the economic and political structures and realities that enable homophobia and transphobia in the country. Different forms of gender-based violence continue to be experienced by members of the LGBTQI communities in the country.

House Bills 4413 and 8364 will provide a venue for the conscienticization of our population, especially those in government and private institutions, schools, and workplaces, on the observance, respect, protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTQIs in the country. We believe that this will contribute towards ensuring that the country continues to be one with the international community in upholding the principles of non-discrimination and equality, even if the realities on the ground remain far from the ideal.

It is in the same breadth that we express our full support for House Bill No. 5453.
November 29 is a day of commemoration and a day of continued vigilance and resistance. When women continue to suffer violence and discrimination, what still remains is a society fraught with disdain and contempt for the exercise of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. Filipina human rights defenders face graver challenges today as we contend with killings, harassment, criminalization, and other gender-based forms of violence. We endure the everyday barrage of reports of rape by men in uniform and the misogynist tirades against women.

We call for the immediate passage of House Bill No. 5453 not only to pay tribute to numerous Filipina human rights defenders who have fiercely fought for women’s rights and welfare but also to honor the contemporary struggles that we face.

Position Paper - CWGE Nov 2018.pdf156.75 KB