Recently, a promotional material was trending on social media due to one of its ways to prevent HIV/AIDS by avoiding “sexual intercourse to (sic) homosexual." And though the said promotional material bore the logo of the Commission on Population (POPCOM) particularly that of POPCOM Region VI, we are one with our fellow POPCOM regional office in strongly denying the production of the said material which included the misleading information offensive to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer (LGBTIQ) members.
POPCOM, from the Central Office to its Regional Offices, assure that all of POPCOM-produced Information, Education, and Communication materials are well-researched and are properly reviewed and approved. Furthermore, POPCOM Region III also reiterates POPCOM Region VI’s statement that our agency “is a firm advocate of LGBT[IQ] rights and is working hard to end the stigma against LGBT[IQ] and HIV” through the conduct of programs, projects, and activities under the Philippine Population Management Program that also address the concerns of LGBTIQ members. The following statements from our partners and stakeholders can attest to the fact that POPCOM does not condone discrimination and stigma:
“POPCOM truly adheres [to] its advocacy to promote healthy lifestyle & responsible sexuality and assist the youth to avoid early sexual engagement, teenage pregnancies, early marriages, STIs and other psycho-social concerns by providing effective program strategies for the youth, considering their diverse socio-economic status, cultural background, age, sex, and gender within our rapidly changing environment.” (Ronald Joe Dela Cruz, PYAP Botolan Chapter President, Youth Leader, & Youth Development Sessions Facilitator for Zambales Province)
“A community with fair judgement and equality is what we aim in this country. As part of the health sector, proper health and wellness for everyone is our goal. Services must be given to people regardless of their race, social status, gender, sex and sexuality. We do not tolerate discrimination; we even fight against stigma and provide people with protection. We are advocates of [all] people’s rights.” (Aylmer Alimurong, Population Officer and Health Education and Promotions Officer, City of San Fernando, Pampanga/LGBT Rights Advocate)
“With the opportunity to cover POPCOM'S events for the past years, I believe that POPCOM does not advocate the standpoint of the IEC material in question. On the contrary, POPCOM has been promoting responsible parenthood and reproductive health, and other population-related strategies which incorporate the call to address the needs of the LGBT[IQ] community.” (Joelyn Baluyut, News and Public Affairs Writer, CNN Philippines)
POPCOM Region III understands that this incidence should be taken as an appropriate avenue for everyone, from the public sector to its major stakeholders, to discuss more not only about comprehensive and correct information on sexuality and reproductive health but also concerns and issues in addressing the needs of our LGBTIQ family and friends with utmost respect and dignity. Hence, POPCOM Region III shall continue to implement population-related initiatives that also integrate responses to needs of the LGBTIQ community, along with other equally important sectors of the society. We shall also look into the possibilities of revisiting and implementing among regional office staff as well as regional and local partners all capability building activities on gender and development of which sexual orientation and gender identity is a part of.
We ask for the support of regional and local partners, media, and all stakeholders concerned to help in appropriately propagating correct and comprehensive information through all possible means on sexuality and reproductive health as well as concerns and solutions to address the needs of all sectors of the population, LGBTIQ family and friends included.