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Top Filipino university criticised for rules banning ‘cross-dressing’ and same-sex relationships

The university was met with criticism from LGBT activists

By Steve Brown

A university in the Philippines has banned cross-dressing and same-sex relationships in its new strict guidelines.

The University of Santo Thomas – one of the country’s leading universities – is a Catholic institution and Asia’s oldest existing establishment, however, in a recent update to the student enrolment conforme (contract) has been met with criticism with its discriminatory and conservative restrictions.

Rules include a ban on tattoos, piercings, inappropriate content on social media as well as having pre-marital sex.

Students are also banned from “engaging in relationship contrary to the principles adhered to by the University and the teachings of the Catholic Church” which many have interpreted as anti-LGBT relationships.

The conforne also states: “Cross-dressing or wearing clothes of the opposite sex is prohibited.”

LGBT+ activists have responded to these controversial and archaic rules and Irish Inoceto – the vice-chair of the Iloilo Pride Team – told Gay Star News: “No institution should be allowed to place itself above the law nor should it be allowed to divest itself of respect for basic human rights.

“This is 2018 for Christ’s sake. UST remains to be one of the top universities in the country and students who want to pursue higher learning should be safe from discrimination no matter where they choose to study.

“The provision on ‘engage in relationships outside of marriage’ directly affects the LGBTI students, same-sex marriage is not legal in the country and will always put LGBTI in danger of being expelled.”

Justin Bionat, also a member of the Iloilo Pride Team, works as a project officer at Youth Voices Count, a regional HIV organization that works with young key affected population.

He said: “My [Facebook] post and my opinion was rooted on the idea that students rights and welfare is a primary human right and should be upheld regardless of the type of administration runs the institution.

“All same-sex and non-heteronormative relationships of students both within campus and online are now in danger. It is downright discriminatory and violates the rights of LGBTQ+ students.

“Actually, discrimination and oppression of LGBTQ students does not only happen in religious and conservative educational settings.

“Even in public and government-run universities discrimination against LGBTQ students is rampant as well.”