Rights monitor blasts humiliation of 3 LGBT curfew violators

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 09 2020 02:26 PM

MANILA - Authorities north of the Philippine capital "publicly humiliated" 3 members of the LGBT community who violated a curfew aimed at halting the coronavirus pandemic, a researcher for the international watchdog Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

The 3 LGBT members were running an errand for their grandmother in Pandacaqui, Pampanga when village volunteers stopped them and accused them of looking for illicit sex, said HRW Researcher Ryan Thoreson.

A village official "publicly humiliated them by ordering them to kiss, dance, and do push-ups on live video broadcast on social media" in which they were identified by name. Videos of the punishment went viral, he said.

Other curfew violators in the town "were also subject to a range of punishments broadcast on social media," said Thoreson.

"The incident illustrates the danger of unrestrained law enforcement power under the guise of public health... Where curfews exist as a means of slowing the spread of the virus, they should be enforced in a professional, measured manner that does not jeopardize people’s rights and dignity," he said in a statement.

The New York-based group urged the interior and local government department to investigate alleged incidents of quarantine maltreatment.

"Efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 are essential, but should not be used as an excuse to demean vulnerable groups. The humiliation of LGBT people and others in the Philippines demonstrates the need for oversight and accountability to ensure that officials across the country respect people’s rights and dignity during the current crisis," he said.

The Philippines as of Wednesday confirmed 3,870 cases of the respiratory disease, with 182 deaths and 96 patients who recovered.

Metro Manila and Luzon, home to half of the country's 100 million people, are on lockdown until April 30 to halt the pandemic's spread.