Parts of the following essay were taken from a research document tabulating murders of LGBTs since 1996. The document was authored by Marlon Lacsamana and Reighben Labilles.
An unidentified transwoman whose body was dumped in a river after having been raped and then stabbed to death. A prominent gay fashion designer shot in the back of his head, his body showing signs of having been tortured. A lesbian house-helper dead from multiple stab wounds. These are but a few of the entries in our growing list of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Filipinos who have died because of violent crimes—crimes that may have been motivated by hatred of sexual minorities.
I did not know that hatred against people like me existed in this degree in the Philippines. I grew up as a gay Filipino youth thinking that I may be just in for a life peppered with verbal abuse, stares of malice, or a beating if I were really unlucky. I even relished the thought that I may be bullied but at least I won’t be murdered like those unfortunate gays in the more backwater areas of the US. Then news came, back in 2009. Winton Ynion, a gay professor and Palanca Award-winning writer, had been brutally murdered. He was found dead in his own apartment in Quezon City, his hands and feet tied with a nylon cord, his body bearing multiple stab wounds. At the time, I was a younger and a lot more paranoid, and I reached out to Marlon Lacsamana (co-author of the research document —Ed.) about Ynion’s murder.
Marlon was an LGBT activist I met through the UP Diliman Pride March. He was the only one I felt that could help me deal with the sudden death of one of our kind. Marlon relayed to me that he had been acquainted with Ynion and was devastated with what had befallen him. From then on, he was driven to research and document all LGBTs who were violently killed.
After pooling data from online news sources and networking with other concerned individuals from all over the country, we have gathered accounts of 59 Filipino LGBTs who have been slain since 1996. Thirty-one of the victims were gay men, 21 were transgendered, six were lesbian, and one was a bisexual man.
Queer and present danger?
These fellow LGBTs were probably caught unaware—perhaps thinking about what to do next, perhaps dreaming about hopes yet to come true—when they were assaulted out of the blue, subjected to abuse, then eventually, viciously killed. Some may have been victims of personal vendettas or unfortunate happenstance—indeed, a number of the news reports show that the police often attributed these incidents to motives such as robbery. However, the manner in which these LGBTs were killed suggests that most may have been murdered out of sheer homophobia or transphobia. Out of hatred for being of a sexual orientation or gender identity that, in most parts of our country, remains stigmatized as deviant or sinful.
The lives of these LGBTs weren’t even ended with merciful swiftness. They were stabbed multiple times, or suffocated, or tortured. Some were stripped naked and raped, robbing them of their decency and dignity before they were murdered.
As if to scare the still living LGBTs, the butchers left the corpses in spots where they can be discovered in all their horrific, inhuman glory—mutilated meat sacks displayed to strike fear and disgust in those who see it. For many of us in the LGBT community, they served as bloody letters from the butchers, saying: “Your kind do not deserve to live”.
In the earlier years of 1996 to 2003, the number of documented cases of LGBT victims was at a low of 1 per year. As the years pass, the numbers rise. Six victims were identified in 2004, seven in 2005, ten in 2009 and fourteen for 2010.
In this year, we already have 10 documented cases. Three gay men, two lesbians, four transwomen, and one bisexual man have been killed, and we are only halfway into 2011. The number of LGBT victims at the end of 2011 might surpass all previous documented murders per year.
What could these rising numbers of murdered LGBTs mean? Could it be because more cases of violent deaths of LGBTs are being documented and found? Or is it what many LGBT people and their allies dread: that there are more emboldened individuals and groups out there, driven by homophobia and transphobia, dead set in killing any LGBT they see? We do not know the answers to these questions. We do not have enough information. But we must find out, because the lives and well-being of Filipino LGBTs may be at stake.
To answer these questions, we need help. We need every able and willing person and group out there who’ll help us to research and to reach out to the victims’ families and friends. We need volunteers who can help us use the gathered data to jumpstart a national advocacy to end homophobia and transphobia, and the violent crimes that these can lead to. We cannot do this alone and we cannot wait for more victims to add to the data in this document before we enact some sort of effective advocacy that will open the hearts of Filipinos and make them realize that we LGBTs deserve to live, and to live free from oppression.
If you or your organization would like to help, please coordinate with us through these email addresses: [email protected] and [email protected]. You may reach us through Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=786800395 and http://www.facebook.com/reighben.
For whatever help you can provide, thank you.