In an incident that has sparked outrage and division online, six people identified as members of the LGBTQIA+ community from the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao — yes, that Ampatuan town — had their hair shorn in an act of public humiliation.
“I wish to clarify to my Islamic brothers and sisters the events behind the [incident] that happened in the town of Ampatuan,” reads one Facebook post, in Filipino. “There was a missing woman who was rumored to be living with her tomboy bf, and it was the woman’s own parents who came forward to ask for help in taking their daughter back.” The post goes on to say that other members of the LGBTQIA+ community were rounded up and brought to their parents, and that they agreed to have their heads shorn instead of paying a fine.
In the photos circulated online, unidentified men are seen using electric clippers to shear the hair off the victims, as men in military uniform look on. At least one soldier is seen recording the incident on his phone.
None of the names of the people involved have been made public.
While groups such as Metro Manila Pride, UP Babaylan, and Bahaghari have condemned the incident and called for investigation by the Commission on Human Rights, some people have defended the act by calling it a “lesson” in Islamic belief. Still others have countered that it was a lesson that could have been taught better by other means.
The June 7 incident was picked up by provincial news outlets such as Bandera News TV-Cotabato, which posted photos on Facebook; and by DXMS Radyo Bida Cotabato City, which has apparently taken down its post.
Datu Kuya King Mangudadatu, a board member of the Maguindanao provincial council and son of Congressman Esmael Mangudadatu, called the incident “disturbing” in a Facebook post. “I could say, as a follower of Islam, that same-sex relations are forbidden, but if this is going to be their situation, they may turn away from the teaching of Islam even more,” Mangudadatu’s post reads, in Filipino. He goes on to say that it would have been better if authorities had instead organized a “daawah (preaching)” of Islam for the victims, especially since they appear to be young.
In a statement posted today, Metro Manila Pride said that interpretations of religious teaching that paint LGBTQIA+ persons as needing correction “go[es] against religious devotion in service of a common good.” The organization also reaffirmed its call for legislators to pass the SOGIE Equality Bill, which they say is “needed to guarantee protections for LGBTQIA+ Filipinos, who deserve to enjoy lives free of hate, violence, and discrimination.”
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