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Philippines: Lawmakers to file bill against anti-LGBT hate crimes after murder of trans woman

Aaron Day October 30, 2014

Two Philippines lawmakers have said they plan to file a bill to curb anti-LGBT hate crimes following the murder of a transgender woman.

It comes after 26-year-old Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck was found strangled on this month, naked with her head in the toilet.

US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton – who was one of hundreds of US marines in the area for a training exercise – was formally charged of the woman’s murder a few days later.

Today, Akbayan Party List Representative Barry Gutierrez and Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao both called for stronger protection measures of LGBT people.

This follows Senator Bam Aquino, who also earlier this month proposed “heavier penalties” for hate crimes.

Mr Gutierrez said: “Akbayan is seriously studying the possibility of filing an anti-hate measure that will increase the protection of members of the LGBT community who remain vulnerable to various forms of violence and crimes due to their sexual preference.

“We have tinkered with this before and Jennifer’s killing has created a new urgency.”

He added: “We need to exert a firm action to deter perpetrators from committing these crimes that stem from no particular reason other than their own prejudice based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.”

The bill would amend the penal code to include hate crimes as an aggravating circumstance. It would also include harsher punishments for hate crimes, and would presume the assailant is guilty of a hate crime whenever the victim is found to be LGBT.

The lawmakers also urged congress to immediately pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill proposed by Mr Aquino, which seeks to prohibit and penalise discrimination of any form.

Ms Bag-ao, the main author of the bill, said: “This measure will ultimately bring forth a culture of acceptance of LGBTs in our society.

“It does not prescribe special rights. Instead, it cements into our legal system the basic rights found in the Constitution and in international agreements.

“It is our duty to create safer spaces for Filipino LGBTs. By passing legislation against discrimination and hate crimes, we can ensure that the rights, welfare, and dignity of our fellow citizens are upheld and protected.

“Now, more than ever, concrete action on the part of Congress is an imperative. Clearly, in the murder of Jennifer, our struggle goes beyond discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Our fight extends to hate that is translated into violence.”

Under Senator Bam Aquino’s proposed bill, persons found guilty would be fined from P100,000 (£1,400) to P500,000 (£7,000) and could potentially face imprisonment of up to 12 years.

More: Anti-gay, Homophobia, homophobic, Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck, Law, LGBT, LGBT rights

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