Philippines: ‘Heavier penalties’ for hate crimes following murder of trans woman

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The Philippines is pushing for heavier penalties over hate crimes following the murder of a transgender woman.

Senator Bam Aquino said on Wednesday: “We should impose heavier penalties so that these discriminatory and inhumane acts will be eradicated.”

He has pushed for a new bill entitled the Anti-Discrimination Act of 2014 which seeks to prohibit and penalise discrimination of any form.

It came after 26-year-old Jennifer Laude Sueselbeck was found dead by strangulation on Saturday night in Olongapo, with her head in the toilet.

On Monday it was reported that a US marine, whose name has now been released as Joseph Scott Pemberton, was detained on board the amphibious assault ship Peleliu along with three other potential witnesses.

Mr Aquino said Sueselbeck’s murder was not an isolated case as the number of hate crimes against LGBT people has risen in the past years.

“This number will continue to rise unless we do something about it immediately,” he added.

Under the new bill, persons found guilty would be fined from P100,000 (£1,400) to P500,000 (£7,000) and could potentially face imprisonment of up to 12 years.

The bill states: “If the Commission has reasonable cause to believe that any person or group of persons is engaged in discrimination under this Act, the Commission shall recommend a legal action in the appropriate prosecutor’s office or court.”

Campaigners have called for Filipino custody of the US marine “to ensure justice for his Filipino victim.”

Dozens of protesters burned the US flag on Tuesday night outside the US embassy, demanding “US troops out now.”