So I asked why they were making a big fuss about the issue. Thereupon, the CEO gave me this long homily about morals, the need to uphold ethics, professionalism, and yada yada yada. His reasoning struck me as odd because if there was any unethical practice happening, it seemed to be coming from the company. There is something wrong in a set up where you hire people for their brains and their skills and then once hired, impose a different set of qualifications, ones that had nothing to do with the job they were hired to do in the first place.
I told the CEO he might have difficulty hiring a Human Resource Director worth his name who would be able to implement the directive because it was blatantly discriminatory. I did not pursue the job offer.
My friends in the call center industry tell me that yes, indeed, there is a sizable number of call center agents who are cross-dressers. Because the job mainly requires transacting business on the phone, communication skills is the main consideration. And they tell me that these cross-dressers are among the most effective and productive.
But I know that discrimination against gay men, particularly those who cross-dress, exist in many call centers and in other work places. And now comes this email in my inbox from LAGABLAB, the group of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders about a case involving Inday Garutay, the impersonator who gained media attention by impersonating Inday Badiday.
Based on the facts presented in the email, Inday Garutay was asked to leave Aruba, a bar at the Metrowalk Commercial Center in Pasig City because of a standing dress code which prohibits cross-dressers from being allowed into the premises.
This kind of discriminatory practice is a throwback to a period when left-handed people were burned at the stakes simply for being different. Why the bar in question, Aruba, actually has such a barbaric dress code is ridiculous. Forget about being politically correct. Forget about respecting diversity and individuality. Let's just focus on one issue: it is bad, very bad business.
I have never been to Aruba, and I guess now I never will. But I have been in the area once and I know that places like this one thrive on serving alcoholic beverages to kids. I also know for a fact that bars like these are frequented because of the permissive environment inside. And they have the gall to talk about morals?
I am joining the call to boycott this establishment. And I am urging you to do the same.
Here's the email:
Ms. Inday Garutay, a gay impersonator in two popular comedy bars in Metro Manila and a TV talent, was told to leave a restaurant because of the establishment's dress code. LAGABLAB wishes to call the attention of the public and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community against discriminatory practices committed by bars, restaurants and similar establishments against cross-dressing gay men and transsexuals. LAGABLAB strongly urges the public and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to protest this case of discrimination and homophobia. Please boycott bars, restaurants, clubs, and other establishments that have similar anti-LGBT practices and policies.
Inday Garutay (real name: Christopher Garcia Borja), was in Aruba restaurant in Metrowalk Commercial Center, Pasig City, last Tuesday, July 4, 2006, at around 6.30 PM, with her boyfriend. She was to meet her Manager and another friend before her show in Zirkoh. She was already inside the establishment when the incident took place. After coming back from the ladies toilet, she was reportedly told by the manager of the restaurant that she has to leave because of the establishment's dress code.
The supervisor for Aruba Metrowalk, Ms. Tin-Tin Aguilar, allegedly said that the dress code bars cross-dressing clients from entering the establishment. Despite being told that Inday was in fact already inside the establishment and that the dress code is discriminatory, Ms. Aguilar reportedly insisted that Inday should leave. Since it was futile to reason out to Ms. Aguilar that the policy is objectionable and biased, Inday decided to leave the establishment.
It has been verified by LAGABLAB from Ms. Tin-Tin Aguilar herself that Aruba Restaurant, despite being a non-membership restaurant/club, has a long-standing dress code that prohibits the entry of cross-dressing gay men and transsexuals. LAGABLAB believes that such a dress code is blatantly discriminatory and violates basic human rights and fundamental freedoms. It also does not conform to the human relations articles of the Civil Code.
Accordingly, the dress code as implemented violates international human rights standards, such as the right to freedom from discrimination and right to freedom of expression, as stipulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (www.ohchr.org/english/law/ccpr.htm) and the Universal Declaration of Human Right(www.un.org/Overview/rights.html).
LAGABLAB recommends the following actions:
- Boycott Aruba restaurant and other establishments with similar policies.
- Inform Aruba of your decision to boycott the establishment and send protest letters to the management of the Aruba Restaurant to stress and demand that they publicly apologize to Ms. Inday Garutay and the lesbian and gay community and that the dress code be lifted.