The Gretchen Diez incident has become an indicator of positive progress in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and acceptance.
This is evidenced by the number of statements in support of the transwoman and denouncing discrimination and abusive behavior. Similar cases in the past met apathy or silence.
It also opened up discussions on LGBTQ+ issues in the country, which often sweeps such concerns under the rug but likes to be considered as tolerant.
Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte was quick to respond to situation. The city made a milestone when it passed the Gender-Fair Ordinance, which aims to protect LGBTQ+ gender-related discrimination and violence, in 2014.
“We condemn this kind of discrimination towards members of the LGBT+ community,” Belmonte announced. “We assure the members of the LGBT+ community that Quezon City will always protect their rights and be a home for their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. We do not support any kind of violence and discrimination in our city.”
The Philippine LGBT Chamber Of Commerce released a statement.
“We are opening our channels for dialogue and we are seeking to educate businesspeople on the necessity of SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression) diversity and inclusion,” it said. “As many businesses worldwide are now realizing, promoting diversity and inclusion is not only (and fundamentally) an act of compassion and empathy, but also good business practice.”
“Together, let’s unite towards building a society that upholds human rights for all,” it concluded.
Spokesman of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in the Philippines Jacqueline Ann de Guia also released a statement on 14 August.
“As Gender Ombud of the country, CHR denounces all forms of bigotry and discrimination against our persons of diverse SOGIE, and urges the government, as well as employers, around the country to make sure their workers are properly trained to prevent any similar future incidents,” she emphasized. “Ignorance manifests as discrimination, and this is something we can combat with better training, awareness and education.”
“This case has been endorsed to both CHR’s Gender, Equality and Women’s Human Rights Center and the CHR NCR office. Both offices will be investigating to help ensure no other person has to go through this kind of discrimination again,” she informed.
On the other hand, Amnesty International Philippines reminded people that “members of the LGBTI community, especially transgender and gender non-conforming people, are often at risk of social exclusion.”
“Gender stereotypes are damaging to all involved, defining and limiting how people are expected to behave a certain way. Removing these stereotypes sets everyone, not only LGBTI people, free to achieve their full potential, free from discrimination,” the human rights organization further said. “Amnesty International Philippines would also like to remind corporations and businesses that they are bound to provide comprehensive Gender and Sensitivity Trainings including SOGIESC for all employees, as provided by city anti-discrimination ordinances and the Gender and Development program. It is the local government’s duty to ensure that this is strictly carried out by businesses under their jurisdiction.”
“Fighting for laws that are more inclusive regardless of peoples’ sexual orientation and gender identity is one step to provide LGBTI people access to the protection they are entitled to. But it is everyday discrimination that is more challenging to deal with, such as not being able to use a public toilet. Anyone can be a Gretchen Diez in this culture of hate, for in order for us Filipinos to end this kind of hatred, we need to change mindsets first,” it concluded.
All agencies and personalitied urged the passing and signing of the SOGIE Equality Bill.
For its part, the Araneta Center, of which Farmers Plaza is part of, denied knowledge and approval of such act.
“None of these actions had been relayed beforehand to the management, nor did we have knowledge of the same as it was happening, for us to do something,” said property general manager Morriel Abogado. “We would like to apologize to Ms Diez for the treatment she has received from a member of the cleaning crew. We would like to extend the apology not just to the LGBT community but to the public in general for the actions of the said crew member.”
“Management makes no distinctions between customers here, and the LGBTQ community has always been welcome,” he further said. “We hope this isolated incident, clearly a mistake committed by an agency worker not organic to our company, does not define our lasting good relations with all our customers.”