Trigger warning: This story contains details of a brutal murder and sexual assault.
The LGBTQ community in the Philippines was rocked last week by the murders of two transgendered and queer individuals in separate incidents. The bodies of Ebeng Mayor, a trans man from Quezon City, and Jhie Bangkiao in Leyte were found last week, both bearing evidence of vicious attacks.
Details of Ebeng Mayor’s murder was reported on the Transman Equality and Awareness Movement — Philippines Facebook page on Thursday, May 20, sparking outrage for its brutality. In the post, the group called for a full investigation of what they said was “a clear indication of a hate crime”. Mayor had been bludgeoned with a rock, and sexually violated with a piece of wood.
In a separate incident, Jhie Bangkiao was bludgeoned to death, and her naked body found in a cemetery in Alangalang, Leyte.
Following a wave of online outrage at the crimes, LGBTQ+ activist groups Bahaghari, Metro Manila Pride, United Transgender Masculine Orgs and Rainbow Rights today held an indignation rally at the House of Representatives.
“We won’t allow our killings to become normal. We won’t allow violence to become the norm,” said Bahaghari spokesperson Rey Valmores-Salinas in Filipino on a post on the Bahaghari Facebook page. “It’s time for us to fight this culture of abuse, by passing a law to protect all of us from discrimation — the SOGIE Equality Bill.”
The SOGIE Equality Bill was first filed in 2000 by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago and Party-list Representative Etta Rosales, but had failed to pass in the Senate. Numerous attempts have been made to pass the bill, most recently reaching the Philippine Senate in 2017.
“The data does not lie: The Trans Murder Monitoring Report of Trangender Europe has recorded at least 58 transgender persons have been killed in the Philippines from 2008 to September 2020. As the Philippine government continues to deny granting legislation that protects trans Filipinos — as well as others harmed because of their SOGIESC — the bodies pile up,” reads the official statement of Metro Manila Pride, posted on their Twitter account.
On Monday, the Philippine National Police announced the arrest of three suspects who have confessed to Mayor’s killing. The main suspect was described by Mayor’s family as being his “best friend”. Bangkiao’s murder, however, remains unsolved.