By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has issued an executive order (EO) creating a special committee on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) affairs.

Under EO 51 inked by Marcos on Friday, the Special Committee on LGBTQIA+ Affairs, which will be under the reconstituted Diversity and Inclusion Committee (DIC), will be led by a chairperson with a rank of an undersecretary and will have three members with the rank of assistant secretary.

The President will choose the chairperson and members of the special committee from reputable organizations representing the LGBTQIA+ community, according to the EO.

A representative from the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Department of Education (DepEd) with a rank not lower than assistant secretary or its equivalent will also serve as members of the special committee in an ex officio capacity.

The DIC will be led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary and co-chaired by the secretaries of the DMW and the DOLE.

The secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will serve as vice chairperson.

“The creation of a Special Committee on LGBTQIA+ Affairs under the Inter-Agency Committee aims to strengthen existing mechanisms to address the continued discrimination being experienced by the members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and to provide them an avenue to participate in policy formulation of the government despite the absence of an established body specifically dedicated to promote their rights and address their concerns,” the EO read.

Based on EO 51, the special committee is tasked to ensure that policies, plans and programs that effectively promote equality, equity, non-discrimination, inclusion and well-being of the LGBTQIA+ community in both the national and local government levels are incorporated in the reinforced Diversity and Inclusion Program (DIP).

It is also directed to assist the Diversity and Inclusion Committee on all matters concerning the LGBTQIA+ members, including the conduct of review of existing issuances relative to or affecting the community.

“Upon the endorsement of the Inter-Agency Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, the special committee shall recommend to the Office of the President measures to further strengthen existing programs and initiatives geared toward addressing the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community,” the order said.

The special committee is mandated to coordinate with concerned government agencies to ensure availability of sufficient and reliable data on the status, challenges and opportunities of the LGBTQIA+ community for the purpose of evidence-based policy-making.

It is also designated to develop a consultative mechanism allowing continuing dialogue between the government and the LGBTQIA+ community; facilitate programs and campaign for the promotion and protection of LGBTQIA+ members’ rights; and take the lead in carrying out programs, activities and projects related to the community that are identified in the DIP.

According to the EO, the special panel should regularly convene at least once every quarter or as often as may be deemed necessary by its chairperson.

All concerned agencies and instrumentalities of the national government are directed, and all local government units are encouraged, to undertake efforts in support of the implementation of the DIP, and the programs, activities, and projects of the committee and S
special committee.

The EO emphasizes the need to reinforce the DIP and reconstitute the DIC “to ensure the country’s continuous compliance with its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

The DepEd secretary will serve as a panel member, along with the secretaries of the Department of Justice and the Department of Health, and the chairpersons of the Commission on Higher Education and the Special Committee on LGBTQIA+ Affairs.

The initial funding requirements necessary for the implementation of EO 51 will be charged against the respective appropriations of the concerned agencies and such other funding sources as may by identified by the Budget department.

The funds needed for the EO’s continued implementation will be included in the budget proposals of said agencies, subject to usual budget preparation process.

EO 51, which was made public on Saturday, takes effect immediately upon publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation. (PNA)