LGBTs want DOH's Ona
to resign for anti-gay AIDS pronouncements
MANILA – Human
rights activists recoiled in horror at homophobic remarks made by
Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona before an AIDS convention
and demanded his resignation from office for discrimination against
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender populations who are part of
the country's priority populations for HIV prevention.
Speaking before the
Plenary Meeting of the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) at the
Manila Grand Opera Hotel, Ona suggested the gathered AIDS prevention
workers that parents should reign their homosexual children and get
them tested. He was immediately met with angry hoots and whistles from
"We want Ona ousted.
Bigots do not deserve high government posts, and more so he should not
serve as a chair of PNAC if we do not want his unscientific biases to
taint the good work of our unsung AIDS preventions heroes nationwide,"
said Marlon Lacsamana, the founder of the Philippines LGBT Hate Crime
Watch, a human rights watchdog.
"We're wasting our
hard-earned taxpayers' money on homophobes as he is undoing decades of
evidence-based prevention practices that aim to encourage homosexuals
and transgenders to voluntarily seek testing, counseling, and
treatment. Ona's words will drive LGBTs away from HIV programs and
make us so vulnerable to infections," Lacsamana said.
Oscar Atadero, human
rights officer of the Progressive Organization of Gays in the
Philippines (ProGay) stated that it was very regrettable that Ona
uttered his remarks when the World AIDS Day theme this year is about
“Getting to Zero.” The global call by the United Nations for Zero New
HIV Infections is designed to ensure that most at risk populations (MARPs)
get much improved access to treatment for all.
"Instead of achieving
zero deaths, suggesting that gays, bisexuals and transgenders get
tested en masse will achieve zero access, zero treatment and zero
saved lives. It feels like gays, bisexuals and transgender being given
a marching order to file into gas ovens in Europe during the time of
Hitler," Atadero said.
The Philippines remain
one the countries with punitive anti-gay laws, such as the
Anti-Vagrancy Law, and rampant violence against LGBTs inflicted by
police and village security forces. The UN point out that these anti-LGBT
policies prevent homosexuals, transgenders, and their partners from
accessing life-saving information and treatment.