What human rights? Can’t we just marvel instead at how Yaya Dub and Alden just look so adorable together? Nakaka-inlove. Hashtag kiligpamore. Hashtag can’tgetenoughofAldub.
What lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights? There is nothing so grave or severe about LGBT rights, no, not in the Philippines. Aren’t gay people so popular here already?
There’s no need for LGBT rights because LGBT people are already tolerated, overexposed even! Look at all these celebrities and “influential” personalities — Boy Abunda, Vice Ganda, Aiza Seguerra, Charice Pempengco, etc. And don’t we have all these contests like Super Sireyna and That’s My Tomboy in rival noontime shows? Even straight people are crushing on them! We have drama series too: Destiny Rose, The Rich Man’s Daughter, and let’s not forget how My Husband’s Lover just made us all cry our eyes out.
The public already knows about LGBTs, especially “transgender” people – what, with the death of Jennifer Laude, form the backlash to the victim-blaming, and all — the good thing is, at least now people are more aware. It sparked public debate and now people are talking about transgender and LGBT issues. Isn’t the Pride March celebrated once, even twice a year? Oh how we love the costumes, and all the colors, so celebratory!
LGBT Rights = Human Rights?
Let’s admit it, “LGBT rights are human rights” sounds like an old, tired slogan. Do we even know what meaning it holds? Would we care if we do?
So, what does it mean — LGBT rights are human rights? What do the words “human rights” even mean? If Yaya Dub and Alden utter these words while gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes — “LGBT rights are human rights” — would people take notice? Would people even be curious? Hashtag LGBT rights. Hashtag anodaw?
So what about LGBT rights? What more do these critical groups who call themselves LGBT advocates ask for? They are so annoying na ha, so nega (enter scene: Yaya Dub dubsmash ala Kris Aquino).
Human rights are all boring talk, let alone LGBT rights.
Why do we need to know that human rights are part of the obligation of the State? Why do we need to know about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was drafted in 1948 after the Second World War? That together with the two core legally binding agreements, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the three now make up the “International Bill of Rights”? That, when countries like the Philippines sign these agreements, these form part of our law, thus making the government answerable to fulfill its commitments to human rights. We even have our own “bill of rights” in our 1987 Philippine Constitution. Read Article III, Section 1, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”
No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.
See, we have human rights! Bongga, ‘di ba? So what are these LGBT advocates complaining about?
Many feminists and queer theorists like the feminist Adrienne Rich raised the issue of “compulsory heterosexuality” which is the assumption that everyone is straight or heterosexual. This made other forms or expressions of sexuality not only invisible but also seen as unnatural and judged as immoral. However, there are historical accounts that point to the “invention of heterosexuality” (Katz, 1995) which suggests that, wait for it—heterosexuality was – is – only invented!
Intersectionality was coined by a black feminist, Kimberle Crenshaw who called to mind the differences of experiences of white women and women of color thereby refuting that women make up a uniform group. Take out “intersect” in intersectionality and we get the gist of the concept. It may sound complex or complicated (parang love?), but intersectionality means that we cannot look at individuals and their lives as the same with the others; nor can we view their situation as linear or homogenous (pare-pareho lang). There are intersecting and overlapping identities, contexts and positions that compound or intensify risk and vulnerability to human rights violations and discrimination of particular groups or individuals. Gender, or sexual orientation and gender identity and expressions (SOGIE) whether actual or perceived, is one axis of oppression. We cannot compare the experience of a rich, straight woman to a lesbian from a poor family. A heterosexual, cis- woman may not be as vulnerable to discrimination, condemnation and stigmatization, as a transwoman. The latter is more likely to be seen and regarded by the society as the “immoral” or “unnatural” one.
Jennifer Laude, despite being a victim is no exemption. A fraction of the public blamed and judged her for hiding her “true” identity. Yet what is a real identity? And who should define or claim it if not the person her/himself? A trans man factory worker who lacks a college degree, forced to accept unjust working conditions yet opted not to report discrimination out of fear of being exposed and blacklisted, given the already limited opportunities – cannot be compared to a cis-man, shirt-and-tie professional who graduated from a prestigious university. Yet even when in seemingly equal footing, professional trans women/ men, lesbians, gays, remain at risk of discrimination, including by their own family compared to their cis-, heterosexual, so-called “normal” counterparts. This and more is what intersectionality is about.
There are intersecting and overlapping identities, contexts and positions that compound or intensify risk and vulnerability to human rights violations and discrimination of particular groups or individuals.
When it comes to human rights, LGBT rights violations are compounded, because of their SOGIE, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, including disability (such as deaf or blind LGBTs), and other intersecting status and contexts.
So when we say LGBT rights are human rights, as advocates would say, these are not special rights. These may not simply be same rights either. Because equal does not necessary mean the same. We have to take into account the specific contexts, issues and needs of the LGBT persons because the experiences of LGBT persons are by no means the same with cis-, heterosexual persons.
So what is it to you, or to the ever-dedicated Aldub fandom?
Because, perhaps with the history you made with the #Aldub phenomenon, you can make one too, for LGBT rights. Perhaps with your 140-letter-character prowess, you could take one for the team, and fearlessly make another milestone – by making #LGBTRightsareHumanRights trend and breaking yet another record, alongside of course, with #aldub. Hashtag #ikawna. Hashtag #thankyou. Hashtag #merryxmas.
Chang Jordan is a feminist women’s rights and LGBT rights advocate. She is not an Aldub fan and means no disrespect to those who identify as one. While she believes that coming outing is a political act, she is not inclined to use labels (though she believes herself to be pansexual) and is more comfortable to adopt non-heteronormative as a political category. She has low tolerance for bigotry, sexism, and religious fundamentalism. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.
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