Will A New Law Make Trans People Cyber Criminals?

LGBT rights groups in the Philippines are concerned that a new anti-cyber crime law could in fact make trans women into cyber criminals and as a result endanger their lives.

The law, the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012, which was signed into law this month by President Benigno Aquino III, is reportedly intended to prevent online extortion and other Internet-based scams.

However, the law has drawn the ire of local LGBT rights groups who say that the legislation goes much further than that and actually attempts to criminalize activity between consenting adults that should not be subject to criminal prosecution — and that this could ultimately cost people their lives.

The law, which has also raised freedom of speech concerns, would with its vague provisions stand to institute a blanket ban on so-called “cyber sex” with a penalty of six to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to half a million pesos.

Why is this relevant to the LGBT community?

Anti-LGBT hate crimes in the Philippines still go largely unpunished and unrecognized, while the country lacks any substantial nondiscrimination protections for its LGBT citizens. As such, one of the only avenues for LGBTs wanting to pursue romantic or purely sexual relationships has been online.

This new law may be particularly dangerous for the trans community, many of whom through lack of available jobs find themselves forced into sex work and by virtue of this new law may be forced to abandon the relative safety of the Internet for working on the streets.

“There are many [transgender people] who are forced by poverty into baring their bodies before a webcam just to feed their families and send their siblings to school, and they are unwilling victims of trafficking by profiteers,” Clyde Pumihic, of ProGay Baguio, said in a statement to Mindanao Examiner.

Pumihic goes on to say, “This law can potentially double the victimization of poor trans and gay persons because the terms [...] are so vague. The law can deem trafficked persons consented to work for pay.”

Pumihic also warned that this new law gives the police unprecedented powers to violate the privacy of LGBT suspects and therein opens the LGBT community up to threats of extortion and violence from members of the law enforcement agencies and individuals who may exploit the law for profit.

“Instead of protecting us from the real cybercriminals, this law is indeed unwittingly turning us into cybercriminals,” Pumihic said.

A number of individuals and rights groups have petitioned the Philippine High Court in order to prevent the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine National Police from implementing aspects of the law.

Of particular concern to business owners and media groups is Section 4 (c) which, while criminalizing online libel, does so in a vague manner. Another concern has been Section 12, which allows for government collection of real-time data.

Concerned parties are requesting a permanent injunction to prevent the law’s stipulations from coming into effect.


Related Reading:

No, Philippine President Does NOT Support Gay Marriage

Filipino Father Attacks Gay Son With Boiling Water

Philippines Urged to Investigate Anti-LGBT Hate Crimes

Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to freefotouk.


Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

Why are there so many stupid law makers?

James Campbell
James Campbell5 years ago

This cobbled together sick joke of legislation is akin to giving a machine gun to a six year old. The target of this so-called ‘anti-cyber crime law’ will, in-practice harm a much wider group in their society. I suspect that for some of the legislators however, this wider target was intended.

To use another model for comparison - If you deny food to the poor don’t be surprised if they have to steal in order to live. The same applies to those who are forced to survive under the stifling blanket of state-authorised persecution and then attempt to find ways to survive. I note that there does not seem to be the same zealous drive to deal with online paedophile sites which may not be covered under the “cyber sex” umbrella if it simply displays (what could be interpreted as) ‘innocent’ photographs of children. Truly harmful cyber sex runs far deeper than a few sexually explicit images.

Leia P.
Leia P.5 years ago


Mary L.
Mary L5 years ago

One more place of fear and hatred, just what the world needs.

John B.
John B5 years ago

Thanks Steve for the article. Here is one petition regarding this;

Also here is a GMA news article posted yesterday. A good read .

Lisa P.
Lisa P.5 years ago

Every person (other than obvious criminally-inclined people) in this world deserve to have a life to live that life as they wish, without the barriers put up by "authorities" simply they don't agree with them! And people like "Elaine" (if that's even her real name, hell it could be a 67 year old troll who doesn't have a life) should just keep her mouth shut, if that's all she can offer.

John Mansky
John Mansky5 years ago

Thank you for the article...

Rebecca S.
Rebecca S5 years ago

Does this also effect the thrid gender in the Philiipines (baklas)?

Lynn Squance
Lynn Squance5 years ago

Basic human rights for ALL people should be universal globally. Can you imagine what could be accomplished if we supported each other in brother/sisterhood instead of making laws that trample rights and demonise others?
Can you imagine a world where no one lives in hunger?
Can you imagine a world where everybody has a clean place to sleep?
Can you imagine a world where there is clean water to drink and sufficient water for crops?
Can you imagine a world where butterflies are free?

Penny Bacon
.5 years ago

It's a sad situation, thanks for sharing.