The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the Ladlad Party formed a partnership with the Philippine National Police Force to convene a Gender and Sexuality training program to sensitize police officers when they are dealing with LGBT people.
Raymond Alikpala of the Ladlad Party, the world’s only LGBT political party, spoke with 429Magazine about the initiative and his hopes for progress.
429Magazine: How do you think this will positively impact the LGBT community in the Philippines?
Raymond Alikpala: This kind of cooperation between the police and LGBT groups has never really happened before. Through this new initiative, the police will gain a deeper understanding of and, it is hoped, more sympathy for the vulnerabilities of LGBT, and this should have a positive impact on our community as a whole.
429Mag: Has there been a history of violence perpetuated against the LGBT community?
Alikpala: The relationship between LGBTs and the police has been problematic in the past, to say the least. The recurring issues of police raids of gay establishments and unsolved LGBT hate crimes are rooted in part in the lack of understanding by the police establishment of the nature, character, circumstances and rights of our community.
429Mag: Is this seen as a major breakthrough for the Ladlad Party?
Alikpala: Yes, I believe this is a major success, but it must be seen in the context of Ladlad’s many years of advocacy for LGBT rights. Ladlad has made sure that the issue of illegal police raids of gay establishments is not swept under the rug. As early as 2003, when our founder Danton Remoto intervened in the Cine Cafe raid and helped secure the release of 20 gay men from Camp Karingal, Ladlad had already been working to combat discrimination and abuses by the police committed against the LGBT community.
429Mag: Are there any people in particular to thank for this success?
Alikpala: There are some persons who should be singled out. Ging Cristobal of IGLHRC. But none more than General Nestor Fajura, Chief of the PNP Human Rights Affairs Office. His sincere personal interest and concern for LGBT issues have made it possible for this new partnership to emerge.
Police Chief Superintendent Nestor Fajura stressed that he was concerned by the reports of distress from LGBT people in his communities and wanted to fix police misconduct by engaging directly with LGBT people. Fajura wants to address LGBT issues and problems in the training of police officers to ensure that civil rights are not violated and that the law is enforced with equal protection for all.
The Gender and Sexuality training programs are set to begin in the coming months and will include three day gender and sexuality workshops with human rights regional officers, police precinct officers, and women’s and children’s desk officers in major provinces all over the Philippines.
The Ladlad Party is seeking to gain 3 House Representative seats in the upcoming election on May 13, making them the first LGBT political party to be officially represented in any Congress.