A Google interactive map, prepared by The Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project
, showing that there have been 1,509 reported murders of trans and gender variant people the group has documented since January 2008.
MANILA – A map created by a group promoting awareness about discrimination against members of the LGBT community showed that at least 20 trans and gender variant people have been killed in the Philippines since 2008.
The Google interactive map, prepared by The Trans Murder Monitoring (TMM) project, shows that there have been 1,509 reported murders of trans and gender variant people the group has documented since January 2008.
Of the 1,509 deaths, 20 were from the Philippines, the map showed.
One of the deaths listed in the map is that of dermatologist Russell Fritz Saliganan alias Nathalia Ann Gonzales who was stabbed 51 times by a jilted lover last January 2013.
Naomi Fontanos, executive director of Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, believes the figures reported in the website are way lower than the actual count of transgender and people of other orientation who were killed in the Philippines.
For example, a study funded by the UN Development Program and the US Agency for International Development showed that 28 killings involving the LGBT community were tallied in the first half of 2011 alone.
GANDA Filipinas is calling for intensified efforts to achieve gender equality following the killing of a transgender woman in Olongapo City where a US Marine was tagged as the suspect.
Fontanos said the killing of Jeffrey Laude aka Jennifer can be described as a ''classic case'' of violence against a transgender, noting that what happened to the victim is something that is not new anymore.
''We have found that all the cases documented share one thing in common: transgender victims of violence die very brutal deaths,'' Fontanos said in an e-mail interview with ABS-CBNnews.com
Fontanos said the Philippines still has no national law protecting members of the Filipino lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community from violence and discrimination.
''LGBT people are not treated equally in the Philippines. This is a social justice issue that the Philippine government must urgently address,'' Fontanos said.
''It shows how LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Filipinos are usually helpless when they are victims of crime in the Philippines. This shows that LGBT Filipinos, in spite of the Constitutional provision on equality under the law, are really unequal in the eyes of the law when it comes to seeking redress or justice."
Laude was last seen alive checking in at a hotel in Olongapo City last Saturday. The hotel staff said her companion, described as a foreigner, already left the hotel when Laude's lifeless body was found.
Authorities later said the foreigner was a US Marine, identified as Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton.
Pemberton is currently under US custody even as various groups urge the Philippine government to secure his custody.
'TREATED AS HUMANS'
Fontanos said the Laude slay case has shown how some people, including authorities, regard members of the LGBT community.
''The police and members of the general public are quick to judge the victim because of her transgender status. People also automatically place blame on the victim. This is the usual mentality when the victim of violence is a woman,'' she said.
She added that it is about time people learn how to respect a transgender person's orientation.
''I hope that women's rights advocates and feminists see that in Jennifer Laude's case, violence against a transgender woman is violence against women."
''In spite of the fact that people widely use the term 'LGBT', many still do not understand what the rights of transgender people are. Jennifer Laude is not a gay man. She is a transgender woman. Possibly, she was not killed because of her sexual orientation but because of her gender identity."
Fontanos said equal treatment towards members of the LGBT community in the country still has a long way to go. She said while many have exhibited acceptance of LGBT people, this is not what they need.
''Acceptance for me is problematic because it accords privilege those accepting LGBT people. That is stil an unequal relationship. We don't want to be accepted. Instead, we want to be treated as human beings with equal rights as anyone.
''Not all LGBT Filipinos have a good family life, education, job, etc. Till now, we experience abuse and discrimination in our public and private lives."