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INTRODUCTION

The Philippines workforce is becoming more diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, and
religion as well as in sexual orientation. Sexual orientation remains the so-called last
acceptable and remaining prejudice- in modern societies and organizations in comparison with
other dimensions of diversity.1 Thus, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (hereafter, LGBT)
employees continue to face a variety of challenges that range from being forced to remain
closeted to actual job dismissal. The economic status of LGBT persons are continually deprived
and challenged because they cannot find and secure employment due to the fact that they are not
assessed by companies based on skills, work experience and competence but instead are judged
of their sexual orientation and gender identity (hereafter, SOGI). Despite their increasing public
visibility, there are no statistics to give us the extent of SOGI discrimination in the Philippines.
The dearth of information is itself a sign of another facet of the problem. Government agencies
that should be involved in issues of SOGI discrimination the Department of Labor and
Employment (DOLE), the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), the Civil Service
Commission (CSC), and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) do not aggregate reports of
LGBT discrimination. SOGI discrimination is a category of workplace discrimination that has
not become part of mainstream policy dialogues.2
The Constitution guarantees full respect for human rights and right to equal protection of
the laws, however, it is silent on matters regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. In a
UN resolution3, our government stated that it was bound by its strong commitments to promote
and protect all individuals. It stood against discrimination against individuals based on their
sexual orientation and gender identity. However, it could not guarantee that it would create new
rights for said individuals. Currently, there are no law which govern SOGI discrimination cases,
with the exception of the gender-fair city ordinance in Quezon City.4 Draft bills that protect
SOGI has been filed in the Congress and in different committees.5
The governing law between employers and employees is Presidential Decree No. 442,
also known as the Labor Code of the Philippines. While several articles of the Code have been
amended, its main policy is the protection of workers. The Labor Code has no prohibition of both
direct and indirect discrimination except as to gender discrimination against women, neither
sexual orientation nor gender identity is mentioned therein. LGBT individuals encounter
discriminatory practices that affect their employment status. In the case of lesbian employees,

Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Workplace by Emir Ozeren.


Ocampo, M.B. (2011). Sex in the Workplace: Approaches to Sexual Orientation and
Gender Identity Discrimination in the Workplace absent an Anti-Discrimination Law, the
Philippine Law Journal.
3
Human Rights Council adopts Resolution on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,
September 26, 2014.
4
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/642680/qc-council-approves-pro-lgbt-ordinance.
5
House Bill No. 634, House Bill No.1483
2

LEAP6, reported that discrimination can occur in the process of hiring, in the assigning of wages,
in the granting of benefits and promotions, and the retention of employees.

Review of Related Literature


Instances faced by LGBT individuals are being asked inappropriate questions during job
interviews, companies prejudice in the selection, hiring and promotion of said individuals,
stereotypes are used to decide on work responsibilities, and they are expected to conform to
gender roles in the workplace. Some LGBT people are discriminated even before they are
employed. For instance, there are cases of male-to-female transgender women being told by
recruitment officers that they will only be hired if they presented themselves as males by cutting
their hair short, dressing in mens clothes, and acting in stereotypically masculine ways.7 For
those already employed, there are cases of dismissals of LGBT employees solely because of their
sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).8
Another example is when LGBT people are specifically hired in order for them to be
abused. For instance, there are allegedly some call centers that hire LGBT people because they
are unable to legally marry. These companies force LGBT employees to take the graveyard shifts
because they do not have families to go home to. LGBT people also forfeit the legal benefits that
those who can marry enjoy, such as taking maternity leave.9
In a survey conducted by Ateneo de Manila Universitys psychological department,
homosexuals felt the need to work harder in order to prove their qualifications to their employers
and that they are less prioritized in promotions compared to their straight colleagues. They also
thought that they were penalized more than straights for the same mistakes committed.10

Lesbian Activism Project, a non-government organization that advocates for lesbian rights
since 1990.
7
Submission of the Civil Society Organizations Coalition report on the situation of LGBT
persons. Available at
http://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/session13/PH/JS13_UPR_PHL_S13_2012_Joint
Submission13_e.pdf.
8
Discrimination, Outrage magazine. Available at http://outragemag.com/a-closer-look-atlgbt-discrimination/.
9
2013 Philippine National LGBT Community Dialogue.
10
No gays allowed, Phil. Daily Inquirer. Avaialable at
http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20081206-176498/CHR-vows-topromote-gay-lesbian-rights.