Bangsamoro Parliament member Maisara D. Latiph is one of the authors of the resolution. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FB.COM/Maisara D. Latip
In a progressive and historic move, a resolution that condemns violence against LGBTQ+ persons was adopted by the Bangsamoro Transition Authority Parliament of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) during its Third Regular Session on 22 September.
Sixty-four members, physically and virtually present during the plenary of the Parliament, adopted Resolution 526 or a “Resolution Condemning the Violence, Discrimination and Murder Committed Against Some Members of the LGBT Community in the Municipality of Datu Piang last 18 and 19 September 2021.”
On 18 September, a bomb placed at the covered court of the town plaza of Datu Piang in Maguindanao exploded while a volleyball tournament among young members of the LGBTQ+ community was taking place. The blast killed one person and injured seven.
In the evening the following day, another LGBTQ+ person was attacked. Lesbian Muslimah Hasim was shot by an unknown assailant in her residence and died from gunshot wounds.
While motivations are still to be ascertained, many consider these incidents to be hate crimes, and several LGBTQ+ organizations denounced the violence against the community.
Red Whistle social media poster on the Maguindanao incident. / Art work by Reyn Pia Mercado Jr.
“We, at Mujer-LGBT+ Organization, are condemning the merciless bombing on the eight LGBT members… in Datu Piang, Maguindanao! Another LGBT life was harmed and lost in Bangsamoro, and we cannot accept this violence to foster!” said the Zamboanga City-based organization.
“We condemn this violence and hate crimes. Hate crimes targeting LGBTIQ community increased in our country and we must act and end this violence,” said LGBTQ+ group Mindanao Pride. “We are calling the proper authorities to resolve this problem, specially the Local Government Unit of Maguindanao.”
The organization Red Whistle also decried the incidents: “It enrages us that crimes of this nature still take place in 2021, a time where the cry and movement for safe spaces, inclusivity and unity in diversity are louder than ever.”
“We stand in solidarity with our Moro and indigenous brothers and sisters in Mindanao in their call for justice and equality. We are with you in thoughts, prayers and action,” they further said.
“May this incident be more than a cautionary tale. May it be a call-to-action for organizations and each one of us to demand accountability, protection and justice and for the national, regional and local governments authorities to ensure that the human rights of our Bangsamoro brethren are protected and upheld.”
On the other hand, Lagablab LGBT Network said: “During these times when human rights violations against LGBTQI people are escalating, we must be even more vigilant in demanding justice for any and all attacks on LGBTQI rights and lives, regardless of the motive.”
The organization urged the Bangsamoro Human Rights Commission and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to hold investigations into this bombing and called on the congress to pass an anti-hate crime law “to help end the cycle of hate-motivated violence against our community.”
“One LGBTQ+ life lost is one too many,” they emphasized.
These are not the only incidents that involve the LGBTQ+ community in the southern Philippines. Last June, LGBTQ+ persons, particularly those perceived to be lesbians, were forced to have their heads shaved off their hair in public in the town of Ampatuan, humiliated as not living according to Islamic ways.
The latest incidents prompted Bangsamoro Parliament members Dr. Susana S. Anayatin, Maisara D. Latiph, Bainon G. Karon, Muslima A. Asmawil and Narciso C. Yu Ekey to file a resolution against the violence on 21 September.
The resolution says: “To protect the LGBT people against illegal acts and prevent further discrimination, harassment, inhuman and unfair treatment against them, the Bangsamoro Government must pursue an investigation prioritize establishing whether the victims were targeted on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
It recommends: “The Bangsamoro Government should develop a concrete action plan to stop violence due to prejudice and discrimination that affects the LGBT community in all areas and spaces in BARMM territories.”
The resolution also emphasizes that “[n]o one has the license to unfairly treat any person on the account of race, ethnicity, beliefs or sexual preference. The freedom to choose particularly on sexual preference is internationally recognized and their rights are ought to be respected.”
Mindanao Pride commended this action by the BARMM authorities, saying that it is “[a] great milestone towards understanding, protection, and equality in the Muslim Mindanao Region.”
Tausug filmmaker and human rights activist Rhadem Musawah described the action as “monumental.”
“During the third session of the Bangsamoro Parliament today, the MPs have agreed on creating an action plan in protecting the rights to coexist of the LGBTQ+ community in the Islamic territories and will soon assign an agency that will ensure the safety and protection of LGBTQ+ Moros without prejudice and discrimination,” he said.
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