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.”