NYC transgenders rally for Jennifer Laude

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Oct 16 2014 08:39 PM | Updated as of Oct 17 2014 08:34 AM

NEW YORK CITY - Dozens of Filipino activists and members of the transgender community showed up at the Philippine Consulate in New York to show their support for Jennifer Laude.

The Filipino American Transgender Community of New York and their supporters are outraged by the death of one of their own.

Transgender woman Jennifer Laude was found dead inside a motel in Olongapo City on Saturday.

The suspect, Joseph Pemberton, is a US Marine stationed in the Philippines under the Visiting Forces Agreement or VFA.

Protesters are demanding justice for the 26-year-old transgender Filipina.

“We are calling for justice for the killing, for the horrendous murder of our transgender sister back home in the Philippines. No one has the right to kill someone regardless of the circumstances behind,” said Chelle Lhuillier, human rights campaign volunteer.

Armani Teighlor Audre said: "He needs to be held accountable, and I am demanding, I am demanding that the US government turn him over to the Philippine government."

Protesters said Laude’s death is a direct impact of the US military presence in the Philippines.

"We are also urging the Philippine Consulate to pressure the Philippine government and the US government to junk the Visiting Forces Agreement and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement," said Jenabi Pareja.

Others believe Laude's death further exposes the daily vulnerability of transgender women in the Philippines who suffer from violence and hate crimes.

Transgender women's rights advocate Geena Rocero, who was recently in the Philippines, said her firsthand experience being discriminated in her place of birth is unbelievable.

"I remember giving an interview, after being in the Philippines, I'm walking out of the building and as I walk these tricycle drivers started screaming: 'Bakla!' I feel sad for the ignorance and this is why we can't continue as a community. We need to have this discussion," said Rocero.

She said these things happen because of the lack of laws that would protect members of the LGBT community in the Philippines.

House Bill 110, an anti-discrimination bill, is still pending in the Philippine Congress because the Catholic Church strictly opposes the inclusion of gay rights in the said bill.

If passed, the act would impose fines and jail time for discrimination against LGBT.

"It's been presented more than 10 years, now more than ever, it's horrible that this has to happen. We cannot let another Jennifer happen. We cannot [let] another killing of our sister happen," Rocero said.