Last edited: November 08, 2003

Discriminatory Ad to Gay Contract Workers

Philippine Daily Inquirer, December 5,1997
Letter to the Editor

SHOULD the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) be commended for seeing it fit to run in newspapers an advertisement title, “Gay workers banned in Qatar,” after the latest deportation by Qatar of discovered homosexual male contract workers? (See column below)

As far back as April and October last year, Middle East police agents have been hounding Filipino males for something as innocent as gathering in private after-office parties where they can dress in female attire. In a kneejerk response, the POEA advertisement exhorted placement agencies and non-government organizations (NGOs) to remind overseas contract contractuals to fear their host countries’ morals and laws.

Why issue the warning only now after thousands of Filipino “sissies” have joined the bitter exodus of millions abroad to relieve the grinding poverty of our supposed economic miracle? We might as well say then that these men who can’t help but be effeminate, regardless of whether they are homosexual or not, must just accept that any of their host countries can suddenly decide to apply their scriptures and morals against men who don’t look macho enough.

No amount of pre-departure orientation seminars can correct the fact that this government must keep the country’s image healthy with the blood, sweat and tears of migrants workers who can come home in any of the following conditions: unpaid, raped and maimed, dead in a box, abused, driven insane, deported for illegal entry or stay, just released from prison or morally corrupted. It’s sad that cash-rich countries can always relax their laws about gays, women and kids in the work force when they need cheap labor ro run their industries. It is sad that when their economies slow down and jobs become scarce. Their governments invoke international labor standards to ban child labor, preach against the evil that gay migrants do and deport redundant guest workers. Being identified as homosexual and aliens at the same time turns Filipino gay migrant workrers into prime targets for governments who need convenient scapegoats for their ailing morals and trade.

But a much sadder affair is our own country unable to give us food, shelter and secure jobs, only vague rumors of new job openings in a previously unknown country with a new set of moral unknowns to discover at a price of more dead or abused countrymen.

Under this setup, we gay workers are supposed to blame our homonal urges for attracting unwanted attention to ourselves, as if we have a monopoly on the human sex drive. Among other migrant groups, we are singled out in a public advisory that conditions us to accept and conform with police rulings, if these indeed are a common occurrence in the Middle East, that being merely homosexual is the sexual activity itself. In roundabout legalese, we are told it is convenient to ask our labor attaches to negotiate for substantial application of human rights if we are accused of violating a host country’s laws.

Losing our livelihood to global free trade of APEC and GATT-WTO in our own home country, we become trade commodities ourselves in the global labor market and the government is now just one big placement agency. The only way Filipinos, whether gay or of any other sexual orientation, to help stop this slave traffic is to unite and struggle for nationalist industrialization, true land reform and protection of our local industries.

(sgd) Oscar Atadero, Pro-Gay Philippines

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