Farmer’s Mall apologized for the harassment of a transgender woman, but that’s it

August 15, 2019 - 12:18 PM
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Araneta Center Pride
Celebration of Pride Month at Araneta Center (Araneta Center/Released)

Araneta Center issued a public apology to Gretchen Diez, the transgender woman who was harassed in one of its malls. But some Filipinos perceived this as non-apologetic.

Diez took to social media to share video clips and posts to share her experience being arrested and harassed by personnel of Farmer’s Mall in Quezon City after she got barred from using the women’s bathroom.

Farmer’s Plaza acknowledged the mistreatment against Diez and assured to take appropriate actions to prevent the incident from happening again.

“We would like to apologize to Ms. Diez for the treatment she has received from a member of the cleaning crew. We would also like to extend the apology not just to the LGBT community but to the public in general for the actions of the said crew member,” the statement read.

“After reviewing all the reports and the video Ms. Diez has uploaded on Facebook, we assure the aggrieved party and the public that we are looking into the matter and will take appropriate action,” it added.

It, however, denied that the management of Farmer’s Plaza is involved in putting handcuffs on Diez, her arrest and subsequent detention at the Quezon City Police Station.

These actions were all personal decisions of the janitress, who was identified as Chayral Ganal, and they did not take place within the mall’s premises.

“The case of unjust vexation against Ms. Diez was not filed by the mall’s management, as reported in the news; nor did we have any intention of doing so at any point. It was, in fact, a personal decision on the part of Ms. Ganal,” it said.

Both parties eventually made amends the same day and will no longer file respective cases against each other, the statement said.

Diez previously said in an interview that she was pleased that Ganal apologized to her and then accepted it. However, she will still pursue a case against the Farmer’s Mall management.

Some people, however, found the message as their way of washing their hands off responsibility for Diez’ mistreatment.

Following this development, Araneto Cubao updated some of their restroom signs with “All Gender Restroom” signs.

Solidarity

The incident sparked renewed calls on respecting the rights of the LGBT community in the Philippines, particularly transgender people and the immediate passage of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill into law.

Far Eastern University, Diez’ alma mater, expressed its support to her and urged the Quezon City government to hold the offenders accountable.

“FEU as an academic institution, value the rights of the students regardless of their SOGIESC and provides safe space to all members of the LGBT. However, if the members of LGBT face discrimination outside the university, this only stresses the urgent need for a national anti-discrimination law,” FEU’s Central Student Organization said on Facebook.

Statement on the Harassment of Gretchen Custodio Diez, an FEU alumna"Papatunayan po natin sa lahat na may pangil pa…

Posted by FEU Central Student Organization on Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray also showed her support to Diez on Instagram.

“The incident happened in a city that has an existing anti-discrimination bill. Ibig sabihin, walang saysay ang isang bill na hindi maipatupad sa isang komunidad,” Gray noted.

“The whole argument of shifting the blame to the victim for reasons of being trans to justify abuse – is still victim blaming and IS NOT RIGHT. The blame should be on the perpetrators who should be held accountable and corrective actions should be taken,” she added.

She also suggested having information drives to educate others on the needs of the LGBT community and a SOGIE workplace policy.

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Last night's incident involving a transgender woman being prohibited from using the womans washroom and resulting in being escorted off premises in handcuffs by local police only highlights further, the Philippines need for implementation of the #SOGIEEqualityBill. LGBTQ+ rights are HUMAN rights – mga karapatang pangkaligtasan at kalayaan mula sa diskriminasyon, karahasan at pagmamalupit batay sa pagkakakilanlan. The incident happened in a city that has an existing anti-discrimination bill. Ibig sabihin, walang saysay ang isang bill na hindi maipatupad sa isang komunidad. Kasabay ng hinihinging pagpasa ng #SOGIEEQUALITYBILL, dapat din tayong humiling ng mga sumusunod bilang isang komunidad: 1. "Accessible forms of information for the public such as educational drives, programs and awareness campaigns": para mas maintindihan natin ang mga pangangailangan ng LGBTQ+ community at para malaman natin ang mga bagay na maaari pa nating magawa bilang mga kaalyado o mga taong may awa sa kapwa ❤. 2. "A SOGIE workplace policy": para sa lahat ng mga pampublikong tagapaglingkod at mga taong may impluwensiya sa komunidad. Gusto ko ring pagtuunan natin ng pansin ang katotohanang wala dapat makaranas ng anumang uri ng pagpapahiya at pang-aabuso (emotional, physical o sexual), LGBTQ+ man o hindi. The whole arguement of shifting the blame to the victim for reasons of being trans to justify abuse – is still victim blaming and IS NOT RIGHT. The blame should be on the perpetrators who should be held accountable and corrective actions should be taken (in last nights case – points one and two above could greatly help prevent future similar incidents from happening). Ang LGBTQ + ay nakikipaglaban para sa kanilang mga karapatan – ang karapatan sa kaligtasan, proteksyon at pagkakapantay-pantay – ay laban din natin. 🏳‍🌈 #SOGIEEqualityNow

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