ABS-CBN reports on gender refugee Philip Belarmino’s groundbreaking case.

I remember Philip from school, a kind and softspoken boy.  His brother Nonong (aka Father Manuel, a Catholic priest) is from my graduating class at the UP Integrated School.

Discrimination against gays is still rife in the Philippines.  Sometimes it’s in your face, sometimes it’s quite subtle.  If you were not aware of it yet, Prof. Danton Remoto of the LGBT gay rights group Ladlad is currently preparing for the 2010 Elections.  They will file for their party accreditation at the end of this month.  In 2007 Ladlad was not accredited by the Comelec as a party-list group because gays were not considered “marginalized and under-represented”.  Those who do not understand gays and fear their influence try to limit their personal, social and professional opportunities.  As a woman I can confirm that the less physical and social power one has, the more one is open to attempts at discrimination and abuse.  It’s easy to say this now because several generations of women around the world have fought for what rights women enjoy today, but for gays, the struggle is still ongoing.

I feel sad about Philip’s journey as a gender refugee, but I am glad he has arrived at a place where his beingness has meaning and significance.

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