Jennifer’s death shows need for antidiscrimination law | Inquirer Opinion

Jennifer’s death shows need for antidiscrimination law

/ 12:02 AM October 27, 2014

Together with the entire Commission on Human Rights, I mourn the death of Jennifer Laude. Ever since the news came out, I have always wanted to get to know Jennifer as her loved ones knew her. Today, having been given that opportunity, I can only say one thing about Jennifer: that she was a good person, napakabait na anak at kaibigan, who did not deserve to go in such a brutal and senseless manner.

Indeed no one deserves to die that way. That is why I wish to underscore the point made by Jennifer’s supporters—that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights are human rights. Whenever a person is attacked for her sexual orientation or gender identity, the rest of us suffer as well. Adhering to human rights means believing in a shared humanity. And when an American soldier took Jennifer’s life, the issue is neither politics nor power, but hate.

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I am outraged that hate crimes are happening with apparent impunity in this country that prides itself in being called a bastion of tolerance for minorities. Under the surface, LGBTs, and transgender persons in particular, lead insecure lives. People whose hatred is the cause of this insecurity are paying no heed to

Pope Francis’ point: “Who am I to judge?”

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Society must face this issue head-on. Starting with the US government, which must guarantee US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton’s full participation in the criminal justice process. It must not hide behind legal technicalities, it must put full faith and credit on the capacity of the criminal justice system of the Philippines to safeguard the basic rights of the accused.

I support the decision of the Office of the President to review the Visiting Forces Agreement insofar as the current provisions impact on the rights of the victims to be assured that erring American service personnel remain under the jurisdiction of the Philippines, as well as to confront the respondents in the proper and legally-sanctioned context.

I join civil society groups all over the world, from Bacolod to Budapest, who expressed their collective indignation over the intolerance, hatred and violence that hound LGBT persons. I support the call for the immediate passage of the antidiscrimination bill, which I first authored in 1998, as well as the legal recognition of hate crimes. All three branches of government must work together to guarantee a national machinery to prevent and prosecute hate crimes.

In closing, I commend the family and friends of Jennifer for fighting for the due measure of justice that she deserves. The sharing of her stepfather, Francisco Cabillan, who told me that he had considered Jennifer as his own child since joining her family when she was three years old, particularly touches me. We must have more men like him, who choose to love unconditionally. I thank

Akbayan, through Mark Figueras, as well as the staff members of the Commission on

Human Rights who joined me in paying respects to the memory of Jennifer Laude.

—LORETTA ANN P. ROSALES,

chair, Commission on Human Rights

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TAGS: Global Nation, Jennifer Laude, Joseph Scott Pemberton, news, VFA
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