Editorial: Discrimination in the Philippines

IT IS sad to note that we had to result to enacting laws just to prevent discrimination.

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines discrimination as “the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, age or sexual orientation.”

APA, the largest scientific and professional organization of psychologists in the United States, said according to the 2015 Stress in America Survey, those who face discrimination have higher stress levels than those who have not experienced discrimination.

“Perceived discrimination has been linked to issues including anxiety, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, and substance abuse,” APA said.

It added that “discrimination can be damaging even if you haven’t been the target of overt acts of bias. Regardless of your personal experiences, it can be stressful just being a member of a group that is often discriminated against.”

Currently, the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (Sogie) bill is being hotly debated by Filipinos on social media and in casual conversations. Those who are against are saying that the bill is attacking religious freedom. Some would go to the extreme saying it attacks their heterosexuality. On the other hand, supporters of the bill have consistently provided clarification on the salient points of the bill. Senator Risa Hontiveros, the author of the Sogie bill, assured the bill will not step on religious beliefs.

The debate for the bill is ongoing. On social media, the debate has brought out the darker side of our so-called “Christian nation”. The debate showed that despite the guidance of the Bible, there are those who call themselves “Christians” but are very discriminatory individuals. We saw these individuals throw slurs and cyberbully the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer (LGBTQ) community and supporters of the bill. Meanwhile, some supporters of the bill also bit back against those who are not in favor of the bill. The “Christians” were also not spared from discriminatory remarks.

Social media have become so toxic because of these debates that some people, supporter of the bill or not, have also become unreasonable and at the same time closed their minds and ears to listen to each other’s side. Why can’t we as a society discuss issues calmly? We respect your views but do you have to be rude and discriminatory to one another?

It is not only the LGBTQ and the Christian community who are facing discrimination in Philippine society. Muslims and indigenous peoples are also victims of discrimination. If you are a tattooed individual in the Philippines, you are discriminated. People living with HIV-Aids are discriminated. Here in Davao City, Indians are also being discriminated. In our society, we are being discriminated for our jobs, the dreams we have, our beliefs, our appearance, and even where we come from.

Discrimination in society is alive and well. We just fail to address many of them because we have decided to simply accept these. But that should not continue. We should stop discrimination in all of society. Easier said than done but ending discrimination can start by showing respect to other people. We may disagree on certain issues but we should always respect one another. Respect goes a long way in making a better society and preventing unnecessary conflicts.

It is good to note that President Rodrigo R. Duterte will certify urgent an anti-discrimination bill that covers everyone rather than focuses on one sector alone. But its implementing rules and regulations would be very long.

“Hindi ka pwedeng mag-legislate for a particular class lang. Nagdi-discriminate ka (You cannot legislate for a particular class only. You are discriminating),” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.

While the move to have an anti-discrimination bill that covers everyone is good, it also speaks volumes of how sad society has become. We need a law just to force everyone to stop discriminating one another. We need a law just to show people respect.


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