Gay rights were visibly seen to have received a boost in the Philippines when an anti-gay discrimination ordinance passed it first reading in one city while another town took to creating jobs for gay men to enforce traffic discipline on its roads.
The Mandaue City ordinance that ensures equality and respect for gay, lesbian and transgender men and women cleared its first reading Feb 11.
The ordinance is the first such legislature outside Metro Manila and states that LGBT members have the “right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest and social services.”
The ordinance also promotes the right to quality education, economic opportunities and protection from discrimination, abuse and humiliation.The Mandaue City government in that ordinance also chose to allocate funds to address discrimination and stigma. A public hearing is expected to follow.
“I don’t expect any opposition. Mandaue city is known as the cradle of civilization when it comes to gay culture,” Mandaue City Treasurer Regal Oliva, a member of the LGBT community who attended the session which passed the ordinance on first reading told Cebu Daily News.
Earlier, in Rosario municipality, at least 20 gay men were hired by the local government as traffic wardens to enforce discipline, manage congestion, issue traffic citations and deal with other traffic problems.
Rosario Mayor Jose Ricafrente Jr. said that this initiative was the first of its kind in the Philippines.
“I believe that drivers will respect these gays who will perform their 8-hour duty everyday. We are so used to the macho type of traffic enforcer, who often had to fight it out with drivers. Now is the time to use the beki (gay) enforcers and maybe we can see how their kindness can work in managing our traffic problems,” Ricafrente told The Manila Times.
Ferrnando Garcia, Rosario Traffic Management chief, said the gay traffic enforcers wear pink polo shirts as uniform and use a pamaypay (mat fan) in giving the ‘go’ and ‘stop’ signals. They will be assisted when required by regular members of the Philippine National Police.
Rosario municipality is included within the Manila conurbation while Mandaue City, is located in the province of Cebu.
The Philippines does not have a national law to deal with hate crimes against the LGBT community even though a recent UN-sponsored study has confirmed that this remains a distressing threat with gay people in the Philippines continuing to face discrimination despite pockets of increased tolerance.