‘Outright discrimination’ as Philippines cuts funds to LGBTI youth

'Outright discrimination' as Philippines cuts funds to LGBTI youth
'Outright discrimination' as Philippines cuts funds to LGBTI youth

National Youth Commission’s Ronald Gian Cardema announces cuts to LGBTI youth funding. | Photo: RTVM

Funds to a vital LGBTI youth program linked to an outspoken opposition Senator in the Philippines were abruptly cut off this week.

The National Youth Commission (NYC) announced it would stop funding a foundation linked to Senator Bam Aquino.

The NYC will no longer give the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations of the Philippines Awards (TAYO) 1.7 million pisos (US$326,094) annually.

Ronald Gian Cardema is the new NYC officer-in-charge and previously held the position of Duterte Youth chairman.

President Rodrigo Duterte is the much worshipped but also controversial leader of the Philippines. He has run a bloody war on drugs, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of suspected drug users and dealers without arrest or trial.

Senator Bam Aquino has publicly spoken out against the drug wars and a number of other Duterte policies.

Cardema said NYC would replace the TAYO awards with the President Rodrigo Roa Duterte Youth Leadership Award.

He also announced the NYC would no longer focus on LGBT issues.

‘We are the National Youth Commission, not an LGBT commission,’ Cardema told mesia.

‘We are here to serve tens of millions of youth, not only a specific sector,” he said.

‘The LGBT community is already our friend and has already established mark in society.’

Outright discrimination

A leading LGBTI advocate in the region told Gay Star News that cutting off funding to LGBTI youth was discrimination.

‘This government official (Cardema) fails to recognize that LGBT persons form part of the youth sector,’ said Ryan Silverio, Regional Coordinator of ASEAN SOGIE Caucus.

‘A lot of LGBT youth leaders are doing great strides in schools, communities and even in civil society. LGBT advocacy in our country is fuelled by the passion and commitment to inclusivity by youth leaders.

‘Any measure to remove or reduce his agency’s mandate and programs on LGBT is an outright form of discrimination.

‘As a youth official, I expect him and his agency to be inclusive. Youth is not a homogeneous sector.’

LGBTI youth in the Phillipines face extremely high levels of discrimination. A Human Rights Watch report found young LGBTI people face violence and bullying throughout their lives, even at school.

The Philippines has one of the highest proportion of adolescents living with HIV. Almost 10% of total people living with HIV.

The Department of Health estimated in less than 10 years more than 90% of people living with HIV will be under 30.

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