October 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Philippine advocates stage ‘Day of Outrage’ protests over trans murder

LGBT National Day of Outrage, Philippines, gay news, Washington Blade

Philippine LGBT rights advocates on Oct. 25, 2014, took part in an “LGBT National Day of Outrage” protest in Quezon City, Philippines, to highlight ongoing outrage over Jennifer Laude’s murder earlier this month. (Photo courtesy of Dindi Tan)

Philippine LGBT rights advocates on Friday staged a series of protests throughout the country to express their continued outrage over the murder of a transgender woman allegedly by a U.S. Marine.

The “LGBT National Day of Outrage” demonstrations over Jennifer Laude’s death took place in Quezon City, Olongapo, Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Iegaspi and General Santos. Other demonstrations also took place in Thailand, the Netherlands and Hungary.

The Association of Transgender People of the Philippines, Akbayan LGBT Collective, the Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines, Transpinay of Antipolo Organization, Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, Colors Cebu, Shine Socsargen, Philwomen on Asean, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Council, Metropolitan Community Church Quezon City and Rainbow Rights are among the organizations that took part. Moovz, a global social media network, also backed the protests.

Jonas Bagas of the TLF Sensuality, Health and Rights Educators Collective is among those who attended a protest at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City.

“Today was more than an expression of outrage,” he told the Washington Blade. “We also gathered to celebrate what Jennifer’s killer failed to see — her humanity.”

Marine Pfc. Joseph Pemberton allegedly killed Laude inside an Olongapo motel after they met at a local nightclub on Oct. 11. The 26-year-old’s naked body was later found in a bathroom.

U.S. military personnel on Wednesday turned Pemberton over to Philippine troops who brought him to Manila, the country’s capital.

Pemberton had been in custody on the USS Peleliu at the Subic Bay Freeport, which is adjacent to Olongapo on the country’s main island of Luzon. U.S. Marines and Philippine soldiers will guard Pemberton while detained in Manila.

The Visiting Forces Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines allows local authorities to prosecute American service members. The Associated Press earlier this week reported they must remain in U.S. custody until “completion of all judicial proceedings.”

Dindi Tan of the Association of Transgender Philippines is among those who took part in a protest at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Quezon City.

She told the Blade that Washington has not shown “real” cooperation with local authorities because they have yet to take “physical custody” of Pemberton. Tan continued to highlight these criticisms as she discussed the protest in which she and others took part.

“It was the first grand mobilization with simultaneous protests all throughout the country and abroad calling for justice for Jennifer Laude and asking the governments of the Philippines and the U.S. to definitively and affirmatively commit to make sure that justice is served without delay,” she said.

Naomi Fontanos of GANDA Filipinas and Angie Umbac, president of the Rainbow Rights Project, earlier this week described Laude as a “martyr” to the Philippine LGBT movement. Tan and other advocates with whom the Blade has spoken in recent days said Laude’s murder underscores the homophobia, transphobia and anti-LGBT discrimination and violence that remains commonplace in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.

Umbac told the Blade that some of those who came to Laude’s wake earlier this week told her family that she was “a slut.”

Bagas during the protest he attended in Quezon City read aloud some of the anti-LGBT comments posted to online articles about Laude’s death. These include blaming her for her murder, using male pronouns to describe her and saying she “should have just been contented working in a beauty salon.”

“Reading these comments, the worst feeling [that] one could feel is loneliness, that sense of isolation that tells you that you have to endure hatred on our own,” Bagas told the Blade. “I personally feel sorry for young LGBTs who are still grappling with their sexuality; these hurtful comments could scare them.”

“But today is a proof that we are not on our own,” he added. “As a gay activist, I am overwhelmed by this solidarity and I hope our efforts here today would comfort Jennifer’s family.”

The Quezon City Council last month unanimously passed an anti-LGBT discrimination ordinance.

Lawmakers in Cebu City in 2012 approved an anti-discrimination measure that includes sexual orientation. A national measure has languished in the Philippine Congress for more than a decade against the backdrop of opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and other religious and conservative groups.

Bagas urged President Benigno Aquino “to face the LGBT community.”

“We are also his boss,” he said. “He should on cases of SOGI (sexual orientation and gender identity)-based violence and discrimination.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • Gabriela Women's Party Rep. Emmi De Jesus cautioned the Aquino government against bullying the family and fiance of murder victim Jennifer Laude with criminal charges and diplomatic protests.

    "Nauunawaan ko sina Malou Laude at Marc Sueselbeck sa ginawa nilang pagtatangkang makalapit sa akusadong si Pemberton, nadarama ko ang pangamba nilang pagyurak sa mga proseso ng dapat ay isang routine na prosecution at police investigation. Kitang kita ang mga paglabag sa procedure ng prosecution at kustodiya, hanggang ngayon wala pang nakukuhang fingerprints at DNA sample, na dapat sana ay naganap dalawang linggo nang nakakaraan," (I understand Laude and Sueselberg's attempt to get near the accused Pemberton, I sympathize with their fears about the gross violations of what should have been a routine procedure of prosecution and polic investigation. Two weeks after the crime and we still have no DNA samples and the obligatory fingerprinting.) De Jesus began.

    The Gabriela solon said that the filing charges by the Armed Forces of the Philippines against Sueselbeck and Ms. Laude with Presidential Decree No. 1227 for a single incident of supposed illegal entry in a Philippine military base is so petty given that it is blind to the numerous violations against our nation's sovereignty inflicted by the American forces through the Visiting Forces Agreement.

    She also noted that despite calls for the suspension of US military activities in Philippine territories, the media reported that the USS George Washington yesterday made a port call at an unnamed Philippine port after performing joint exercises with the Philippine Navy. De Jesus said there is no information about where the 5,000 troops on board spent their rest and recreation, but she expressed worries about the possibility of more abuses if they go on another red light district prowl in Zambales or elsewhere in the country, just as Pemberton and his colleagues did before.

    "The AFP asserts that any foreign national who visits the Philippines shall follow Philippine laws, yet it so blind to the continuing transgressions on our justice system, our sovereignty and society, that the VFA has been committing for more than 15 years. The Philippine military should stop being the protector of a superpower, and must first seek justice for the family of the victim, a Filipino citizen," De Jesus said.

    The Gabriela Women's Party condoles with the bereaved family members as they hold a burial motorcade for Jennifer Laude today in Olongapo City.

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