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From the bathroom to a national discussion of LGBTQ+ rights:
a case of discrimination in the Philippines

Luis Emmanuel A. Abesamis & Rowalt Alibudbud (2023)

Abstract: Despite the Philippines’ progress in gender equality, contemporary evidence suggests that Filipinos continue to possess negative attitudes toward lesbian and gay individuals. Likewise, discrimination and violence toward bisexual, transgender, and queer Filipinos have been documented. Despite cases of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) based discrimination, national-level anti-discrimination legislation remains unpassed in the Senate. This study explores the national discussions on the SOGIE Equality Bill triggered by a bathroom discrimination experienced by a Filipino transgender woman in 2019. Taking cues from Richardson’s sexual citizenship framework, we investigate the diverse rights discourses among sectoral groups, such as local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other individuals of marginalized sexualities and genders (LGBTQ+) organizations and their allies, high-ranking Filipino politicians, and religious organizations. Analysis of local discourses showed that those supporting the SOGIE Equality Bill leverage identity-based rights discourses, while those opposed primarily navigate these debates using conduct-based rights discourses. Future policy and advocacy work must leverage the insights from these public proceedings to foster LGBTQ + solidarity in their campaigns for LGBTQ + rights in the country. Particularly, future work must (1) locate the middle ground between the LGBTQ + community and opposed legislators; (2) highlight essential values and common issues shared by all Filipinos; (3) surface how privilege can preclude and advance solidarity within the LGBTQ + community; (4) campaign for the passage of local anti-discrimination ordinances; (5) improve the SOGIE-related competencies of policy implementers; and (6) engage in research that explores public discourses and meanings assigned to sexual rights among Filipinos.

Abesamis, L. & Alibudbud, R. (2023). From the bathroom to a national discussion of LGBTQ rights a case of discrimination in the Philippines.pdf


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