Monday, July 30, 2012

The First Country in Asia to Say Yes to Marriage Equality...?

Some impressive things are happening on the equality front in one particular Asian nation, and it's catching everyone a little by surprise.

Is this happening in one of the region's bastions of democracy? -- Taiwan, Thailand, or the Philippines?  Not quite.  Surprisingly, the conversation of amending the marriage law to include gay couples is happening in a communist country:  Vietnam.

The Vietnamese government is now considering whether to allow same-sex couples to marry (or at least legally register) so they can receive the rights they're currently being denied.  Thus, Vietnam could very well be the first country in Asia to allow same-sex marriage, according to news agency AP.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Submit a Guest Article!

If any reader is interested in submitting a guest post on this blog, you're more than welcome to do so!

Submissions can be of any length, so long as the content pertains to LGBTQ rights, the broader topic of sexuality/sexual orientation/gender identity, religion/science/&sexuality, or the promotion of progressive values.  Personal experiences and op-eds are also accepted.

You can submit either original content or, if you have your own site, content you've already published and would like to share here.  You can also link back to the article in your own blog, as well as link from your blog to the article you submit here.

Friday, July 27, 2012

HIV in the PHL. Religious Right, YOU'RE to Blame.

If you're an HIV virion in the Philippines, business is booming for you these days.

One of only seven countries in the world where HIV rates have risen 25% over the last decade, the Philippines has a very big problem on its hands.  But rather than listening to world medical experts and tackling the problem, the Philippine government is opting to listen to the Religious Right -- particularly the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and its mother ship, the Vatican -- and taking a gamble with the lives of its own citizens.

Unprotected sex between men accounts for 87% of all new HIV cases in the country, according to the DOH and UNDP.  Ten new infections are detected each day, and nobody really knows how many silent HIV carriers are milling around the general population.  Many Filipinos remain untested for the virus, which has an asymptomatic latent period of up to 10 years, during which no major signs or symptoms are seen or felt.

When coupled with the fact that the Philippines has the lowest rate of condom use in Asia, it's a recipe for disaster.  It's a recipe that is now starting to yield some unsavory and frightening realities.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Nonsense Arguments You're Up Against

From the mind of former Philippine Ambassador to Italy, Jose V. Ramero, Jr., Ph.D., comes this sorry op-ed I happened to stumble across online this morning.  It's an elderly rant on same-sex marriage, ominously entitled "A Dangerous Social Experiment."

The reason I'm including a link to it, is so that you can see the types of nonsense arguments you're up against in the struggle for equality.  They're trivial assertions that are easily dismantled and proven flat-out wrong by modern science, observation of countries which already have marriage equality, and rudimentary common sense.

I firmly believe that if you know the arguments of the anti-equality side inside and out, you'll be much better able to anticipate those arguments in a conversation or debate, and formulate coherent responses.  If you can do that, you will win every time.  Guaranteed.  The pro-equality team has logic on its side; the haters don't.  Mr. Ramero's op-ed is proof of that.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lessons From the Latino Playbook: Emphasize Family and Love More Than Rights

Philippine and Hispanic cultures have so much in common.  Heavily influenced by the 16th- and 17th-century culture of Habsburgian Spain of old, the parallels between the two in terms of family life, customs, mores, and of course, Roman Catholic religion, are easily recognizable.

It is because of this commonality that I took notice of something that happened in the U.S. last week.  A coalition of 21 different Hispanic organizations, whose members range from second and third-generation Hispanic-Americans to recent immigrants from Central and South America, announced a joint pro-LGBTQ equality campaign.

The name:  Familia es Familia, or in English, "Family is Family."  Its aim:  to further build support for LGBT equality within the wider Latino community through public education, resources, and engaging the community through social media, and to heighten acceptance of LGBT family members within the Latino community.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

PMA: "We Won't Discriminate... Buuuut..."

In somewhat of a mixed-message, the PMA (Philippine Military Academy) has stated that there is no ban on gays and lesbians from applying for entry.  They insist they do not and will not discriminate against or turn away cadets if they happen to be gay or lesbian.

This should be applauded.  It's a great thing for the premier military academy of the Philippines to publicly commit to such a policy, and they honestly and sincerely deserve a pat on the back for it.

And then come the "buts"...

PMA spokesperson, Capt. Agnes Flores, says that cross-dressing is a total no-no.  Okay.  But that's not a gay issue, that's a cross-dressing issue.  The vast majority of cross-dressers are either transvestites or transgenders, not gay men and lesbians (see Definitions page).  Captain Flores is a little confused and prone to stereotyping, it seems.  Bless her heart though, she's trying.