‘Religious belief cannot justify shaving of lesbians' heads’ — CHR

Published June 12, 2021, 12:35 PM

by Czarina Nicole Ong Ki


The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) stressed that “not even a religious belief can justify a human rights violation.”

It reacted to reports that six members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) community were forced to have their heads shaved in Ampatuan, Maguindanao because of their sexual orientation.

It said its Region XII office has already started investigating the incident, which was reported by several news outlets and shared all over social media. According to reports, their heads were shaved because Islamic beliefs prohibit homosexuality.

However, the CHR noted that the report concerning the incident has already been taken down by a certain news organization that first broke the news.

CHR spokesperson and lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia described the incident “deeply concerning” especially as the country celebrates Pride Month this June.

De Guia said: “As the country’s Gender Ombud and independent national human rights institution, CHR continues to stress that no person should ever suffer discrimination and harm on the basis of one’s affiliation or creed, or because of one’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or sex characteristics (SOGIESC). All persons are free and equal in dignity and rights. LGBTQI rights are human rights.”

While religious freedom includes the absolute right to believe in a dogma, De Guia explained that it cannot transgress on the rights of others or be used to justify harm and violence.

“This is especially so when current laws, such as the Safe Spaces Act, uphold the right of all persons from harassment, including protection from remarks and slurs that betray hatred and fear of members of the LGBTQI community,” she explained.

She said the CHR has been working hard to encourage Filipinos to end stigma, discrimination, and violence against the LGBTQI community, as she pointed out that people of different sexual orientations are still part of society and they deserve equal rights to safety and security in both private and public spaces.

“The right to dignity includes the right of every person to be able to live their truths as to their identity; to be able to express; to be recognized; and to be respected as humans with rights,” she added.