2 guards charged for gay discrimination

By Reinir Padua, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 28 2014 02:53 AM | Updated as of Mar 28 2014 10:53 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Two security guards are facing criminal charges for stopping a transgender from using the women’s toilet.

Call center employee Mara La Torre (John Gerard), 22, filed a criminal complaint against May Pacheco and her supervisor Mineleus Llegunas before the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office yesterday for violation of City Ordinance SP1309, S-2003 prohibiting discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace.

Both are assigned at the offices of a call center in Fairview, Quezon City.

La Torre said the action of Pachieco and Llegunas degraded her gender identity.

“As a transgender woman, I identify myself as a woman,” she said in Filipino.

Clara Rita Padilla, La Torre’s lawyer, said her client is seeking justice through the Quezon City ordinance, the first passed in the Philippines protecting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people against discrimination in the workplace.

“All employers and employees in Quezon City should know about this ordinance to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” she said. “Mara is very courageous in standing up for her rights.”

They could not make public the names of the guards at the moment to prevent any suit in retaliation to the one that they have filed, she added.

La Torre said the action of the security guards affected her health to the point that she had to reduce her water intake, and that it has affected her job performance.

The “hostile environment” in the workplace has caused her “gender dysphoria” or “gender depression” that transgender people experience, she added.

La Torre said the company has no unisex toilet.

“Sometimes I need to use the female restroom,” she said in Filipino. “But because of the reasons I mentioned, the right side of my tummy is beginning to ache because I dare not urinate. I am not also allowed to use the female sleeping quarters. It is difficult as I need to sleep because sometimes I’m already in the office five hours before my shift. I’m assigned at night and it’s hard to get a ride at that time.”

The incident in question reportedly happened on the morning of Feb. 20. While La Torre was using the ladies’ room, Pacheco allegedly asked her to get out.

Only women are allowed to use the ladies’ room, Pacheco allegedly told her.

When La Torre insisted that she was a woman, Pacheco said she was only following orders from Llegunas.

As per the company’s human resources department, La Torre was informed that an employee’s gender is determined based on that stated in his or her birth certificate.

La Torre is still working for the BPO company.