The Department of Tourism (DOT) will investigate an alleged incident involving sexual harassment and gender discrimination by the employees and management of a resort in Samal Island.
While staying in the renowned beach resort on May 8, Shannon R. Gonzaga shared her experience through Social Media on May 10 regarding the homophobic response and discrimination she faced by the resort's management and staff.
Gonzaga, a transgender woman, complained of an incident that around 6 p.m., she was ridiculed by the resort staff that refused her to use the shower area for female guests and was told, "bawal ka diri, sa pikas ka kay gay ka."
(You are not allowed here. Go to the men's bathroom because you are 'gay').
She explained to the worker that she was not "gay," but a "transgender," and took hormones since the age of 18, giving her an appearance of a female. Still, it didn't work out well as the female employee insists that Gonzaga should shower in the men's shower area.
Gonzaga said she felt uneasy as the men's shower area was already packed with "topless" male guests when she came to check it.
"I could not bear to wash off there as I did not want to get intimidated nor make them feel uncomfortable because, sis, I have a cleavage," she said.
She added that the employee even asked for proof through a video that she already underwent gender reassignment. So Gonzaga decided to air her complaint to the upper management for being humiliated by their employees.
However, she said she was subjected to another "homophobic" remark as the management asserted on its "policy" that gays are not allowed to use the female's shower area.
Gonzaga also educated the head manager about her gender, and eventually, the latter apologized.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the management of Isla Reta Beach Resort stated that since it lacks the facilities to cater to members of the third sex, they are no longer welcome to visit the white sand beach resort.
"We inform to the public we cannot accommodate transgender because we have no facility for them to avoid issues of discrimination," the statement read.
Furthermore, the LGBT Davao City Coalition said that they condemned discrimination against members of the third sex. The coalition said that no less than the 1987 Philippine Constitution acknowledged each individual's right to be free from discrimination and right to freedom of expression.
"The DOT advocates gender equality and mainstreaming and do not tolerate any form of gender-based harassment or discrimination in its systems, structures, policies, programs, and processes," the DOT said in a statement.
"We urge the entire tourism industry to abide by our national laws on Gender and Development," it added.
In a separate statement, the resort management clarified that it did not intend to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community and is not "homophobic or transphobic." It also denied disrespecting Gonzaga when the staff barred her from using the women's shower room.
The management added that all the members of the LGBTQ+ are welcome to its resort. Still, it hopes that the guests will respect the resort's policy on the use of shower rooms and comfort rooms as it only tries to consider and protect other guests, particularly the women's rights and privacy.
"To give the public a background, women guests have been complaining to the management that they do not feel safe and/or are uncomfortable with transgender and even vulnerable using the shower room with them," it said.
"Once inside, everyone can see everybody using it," since
the common shower rooms are open and don't have separate cubicles, management said.
Sources: DOT, Sunstar, Mindanews