Human rights group condemns brutal murder of transgender Filipina, cautions against gay or trans panic defense
Gender and Development Advocates (GANDA) Filipinas, a human rights advocacy organization led by transgender women in the Philippines, condemns in the strongest possible terms the brutal murder of Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman, in the hands of a United States (U.S.) marine whose identity has not been disclosed by U.S. and Philippine officials.
According to a police report, a white male checked in with Jennifer at the Celzone Lodge on Magsaysay Drive in Olongapo City at 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, 11 October 2015. Eyewitnesses at the hotel say that the suspect left the room a few minutes later. At 11:45 p.m., a hotel attendant found Jenifer dead with her head in the toilet.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to Jennifer’s family for their loss,” GANDA Filipinas Executive Director Naomi Fontanos said. “While we know that the suspect has already been detained aboard the USS Peleliu which is here for joint military exercises, we call on the U.S. Embassy to ensure that justice prevails in this case. The U.S. Embassy has been a vocal supporter of lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights in the Philippines and now, more than ever, is the time for them to step up and show how genuinely committed they are to fighting for social justice for LGBT Filipinos. We are afraid that under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (ECDA) between the U.S. and the Philippines, the suspect might be able to use a gay or trans panic defense and go scot free,” Fontanos further said.
“We also call on the Philippine government to not treat this case as less important just because the victim is a transgender individual. In fact, this should even be a wake-up call for the Philippine government to do something about the situation facing many transgender people in the Philippines. Many of us are often victims of grave abuse, maltreatment and violence because of our gender identity. The government should show that it values the lives of all its citizens including those who are transgender,” Fontanos added. Jennifer Laude’s murder comes on the heels of recent crimes involving transgender individuals.
GANDA Filipinas urges Philippine authorities to sustain its efforts to advance human rights based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE). Recently, the Philippine Mission to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted yes to a resolution to addressing discrimination and violence against LGBT people.
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