Philippines Police Crack Down on LGBT Protest

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06/29/2020

On June 26, police in Manila arrested at least 20 people at an LGBT Pride event protesting an anti-terrorism bill that threatens rule of law in the Philippines. The police did not explain why they were arresting the protesters, only telling them that their actions were prohibited by law. There were no allegations of violence. The protesters were subsequently charged under the Law on Reporting of Communicable Diseases (2019) and the Public Assembly Act (1985). As Filipino human rights advocates have pointed out, these laws do not prohibit protests and rallies, and the protesters were following social distancing protocols and wearing masks. The government should not use the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to silence dissent and violate fundamental human rights, including freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. Since the pandemic began, Human Rights Watch has strongly condemned the misuse of public health restrictions as a pretense for rights violations in Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central Asia, Egypt, Hungary, Jordan, Thailand, and elsewhere. The Philippine government has previously been criticized for using Covid-19 restrictions to quash dissent.

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