Matthew’s Place
Published in

Matthew’s Place

Challenges the LGBTQ+ Community Faces in the Philippines

by Judy Bokao

Over the years, those in the LGBTQ+ community have faced many challenges in their lives. Ranging from home, school, work and even in relationships and marriages. Though society is slowly changing its perception towards creating a friendly environment for the LGBTQ+ community, there is still a long way to go. Philippines is considered the most gay-friendly country in Asia, but its LGBTQ+ individuals are still undergoing many challenges.

The queer community in the Philippines still have limited legal rights. LGBTQ+ persons do not have the right to marry someone of the same sex. Adoption is not allowed. Only a single LGBTQ+ person is allowed to adopt, but not two people of the same sex who identify themselves as a couple. Organisations have been founded to help advocate for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. The groups are working on trying to get discrimination protection laws at the national level, but so far they have only succeeded at the local government level.

Discrimination is a serious challenge faced by the LGBTQ+ community in the Philippines. According to statistics, it mostly affects the LGBTQ+ students. In most cases, it is accompanied by stigmatization, public-shaming and name calling. Discrimination can lead to mental health issues that include depression, stress, drug and substance abuse, anxiety and the worst scenarios being suicidal thoughts, attempts or death. School is supposed to be a safe environment for children regardless of their differences, but the spirit of discrimination lives within the school walls. This is something that should not be taken lightly.

The government has also failed to play its role, by not protecting its citizens regardless of their gender, culture, colour, sexuality, religion, or traditions. The government should contribute to the well-being of the LGBTQ+ community by providing equal rights — especially marriage equality. The Philippines government, more than anything else, should lead on the journey towards a problem-free life for the queer community. They barely provide funding and workforce for these individuals considering, some have very poor standards of living.

In the employment sector, the queer community encounters distinctive challenges in both private and public enterprises. They face discriminatory practices that affect their employment status. For many LGBTQ+ people, discrimination starts prior to employment. You find recruitment officers telling transgender women that they will be hired if they presented themselves as males, LGBTQ+ persons in some cases are assigned graveyard shifts in their jobs as it is assumed they have no family to go to. They are also denied maternity leaves. They go through different sorts of abuse, some companies take advantage that LGBTQ+ individuals are unable to legally marry.

On matters of religion, the Philippines nation is supposed to honor the separation of the state and church and obliged to comply with the articles that allows to the right to religion and prohibit discrimination. In a certain survey, 80% of the population in the Philippines belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. In several instances, law makers are also church leaders. In 2006, the chairperson of the Committee on Human Rights of the House of Representatives — a Baptist pastor — was against the anti-discrimination law.

Though there has been growth of LGBTQ-friendly churches, we do not ignore the negative effects of religion on LGBTQ persons.

Media is also a very important tool in promoting LGBTQ-related issues. Media personalities in Phillipines mostly undergo transitions. In 2004, after an entertainment programme aired a wedding ceremony of two women, a memorandum was released that warned against the positive depictions of same-sex relationships.

In politics, the importance of an LGBTQ+ party (Ang ladlad), is seen for a political representation in the Philippines of the working class individual. It is disheartening that many of the LGBTQ+ people holding elected posts do not advocate for their own community’s issues. However there have been successful efforts to promote LGBTQ rights in the political sector as time moves on. We need more of this!

In conclusion, LGBTQ+ people are a part of our community and we should start treating them with dignity. It is never too late to make changes that create an inclusive environment . The Philippines is on the right track, but it needs to speed up some things to allow its people to feel safe and be productive for the good of everyone.

About the Author:

Judy Bokao is 20 years old and was born in Ethiopia but relocated to Nairobi two years ago. She is passionate about everyone having equal rights and is also big on conservation and speaking up for our planet. Judy loves reading and photography and is just a free-spirited young lady trying to grow into a woman her mom can be proud of.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Matthew's Place

Matthew's Place is a program of the Matthew Shepard Foundation| Words by & for LGBTQ+ youth | #EraseHate | Want to submit? Email