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Discrimination (Again) at Aruba Bar: BB Gandanghari Refused Entry

Aruba Bar in Metrowalk has done it again. This bar, which reeks of discrimination, has continually refused entry to transgenders via a sign at the entrance: No Cross-Dressing.

BB Gandanghari went to Aruba Bar & Restaurant because she wanted to watch her friend Rannie Raymundo’s show. But she and her friends were denied entry because they were cross-dressing. A similar incident happened not so long ago - at the same bar, to a different person: Inday Garutay.
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Onotheo said…
I have no problem with establishments refusing customers because of their appearance. There will be others that will take them if the demand is high enough and becomes profitable.

On the other hand, refusing an emergency treatment to a person because he/she is a cross-dresser is a crime.
PinayTG said…
This is not a matter of aesthetics. This is a case of an establishment singling out a certain group of people and telling them they are not worthy of their product/services NO MATTER WHAT.

In my book ANY FORM of discrimination is unacceptable and we must work together to ensure that not only straight acting gay men and lesbians get equal rights but all of us in this so-called LGB and T community.
Onotheo said…
Even if it's a matter of declaring a group of people unworthy of their product/service then they have the right to do so. It's their opinion and it's their product. Likewise, customers have a choice of seeking alternatives that they believe have more value and are free to voice their critiques of products or services that they think are crap. But if we seek government backing to allow us to obtain that which is something the owners are unwilling to provide but are forced to do so because of irrational laws we authored - we are not seeking for equal rights here, we want special rights.

In fighting for our equal rights, we ought not to trample on others' in favor of our own.

Rules are far inferior than principles. We are not seeking special rights. The presence of an alternative bar does not change the fact that Aruba Bar has discriminatory rules.

Aruba BAR, as a business establishment MUST follow the principles of this country. A business license is not a license to practice discrimination.

IF there's someone who is seeking a special right here it is Aruba Bar & Restaurant and not us.

IF Aruba Bar suddenly refused entry to a particular racial group, would you say the same thing? Would you say that Aruba Bar has all the right to be racist? Would you defend them?

I'm a business major and I understand what you're trying to point here. Using the market as a tool to end discrimination is only plausible in certain cases: that is if the "minority group" can
out buy discrimination.

There's nothing wrong in seeking the backing of the government: it is the responsibility of the government to uphold human rights.
Moreover, the social benefits of legally enforcing anti-discrimination policies and the government actively combatting discrimination far outweighs the social disadvantages.

We're not asking them to provide what they cannot provide. We are asking what they should provide as according to the laws of this country and to the principles of corporate social responsibility.
Mac Callister said…
yeah they are discriminating the gay community
its now a fact
why still go there?
so dont go...
end of conversation
there are lots of bars out there
its their lost.
line of flight said…
I disagree with PinayTG on one minor point. The government must allow some forms of discrimination. Infants and the blind should not be allowed to drive automobiles -- for example. However, there are types of discrimination that should not be permitted by the government or with the assistance of the government.

Onotheo's argument about it just being about aesthetics misses a significant point about the government's role in stopping certain forms of discrimination by private actors. allowing the market to determine what forms of discrimination is okay turns all questions of social justice into questions of access to wealth. minorities and the poor will never get social justice if their claims must be submitted to market forces.

second, the government grants the licenses and permits for a business to serve alcohol and to exist in general. running a public accommodation business is a privilege and not a right of the business owner. that privilege can be conditioned. because a public accommodation acts as a quasi-public space, there should be restrictions on the form of discrimination that may occur in public accommodations. If someone wants to discriminate, the business owner should consider establishing a private club. i suspect that would not be as profitable as having random people come in to drink and dance and thus, if he wants to make a profit from the privilege of operating a quasi-public space business, he must accept limitations of a public space and not expect to run his operation as a private club.

there should be tremendous concern over the legalized privatization of public space for any interested in any aspect of social justice. we simply cannot allow market forces to dictate what forms of social justice we are willing to accept.
Anonymous said…
Same with Onotheo, i have no problems with establishments refusing customers, it's their loss anyway if they do.. not ours. Also, we demanded respect from these establishments, so let us also respect them.
PinayTG said…
@Onotheo: I understand where you are coming from but it sounds to me like a lot of internalized homophobia. We have all been conditioned to think that we are less as people that when something WRONG happens to us, we immediately think it must be RIGHT. After all, these sorts of things happen to you when you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. So you just move on and go to the next bar where, hopefully, you will be welcome.

There are so many things wrong with that line of thinking. First of all, you are saying that essentially you want rights but when SOMEONE else thinks you do not deserve those rights and want to take them away, it's okay. After all, you don't want to trample on their right to take your rights away.

This is why you are able to say that being refused public accommodation is OKAY while being refused competent medical care is NOT. Why? These rights are equal. There are no double-standards to these rights (

Secondly, you are saying that Aruba's refusal of entry to a certain group of people (and mind you they only refuse entry to female-presenting people who were assigned male at birth; they do not discriminate against male-presenting women)is their personal choice. That may very well be but IS IT RIGHT? The problem with calling it a personal choice is that it hides the fact that it is DISCRIMINATION.

And discrimination is usually based on prejudices. So we need to ask WHY are so-called cross-dressers not allowed in Aruba? What does the Aruba management think of them? Most likely the answer to that would be: they think cross-dressers are sick/disgusting/not human/deserve to die.

Sadly these are the same reasons why many gays and lesbians are discriminated against as well. And my one last point is: you seem tho think that asking for equality is asking for special treatment/rights. Why? What rights do you think you have? You don't have a right to marry, adopt children, etc. Are you saying if someone from our community wants to get married they are asking for special rights? I don't think so.
We have not even achieved equality yet.

@Anonymous: Are you saying that you respect Aruba's right not to respect other people? :)
Aruba, which exudes an illogical and discriminatory sign for our dear transgender sisters, 'NO CROSS-DRESSING' is like a stench of a corrupt government!

lets bring Ang ladlad to congress and Danton Remoto to the senate. They will reshape and will surely pass the anti discrimination bill that we are all been waiting for.

Let us BOYCOTT this place!
Onotheo said…
While this seems to be primarily an issue about discrimination, I am defending here a most basic right and that is the right to ones own property, business, expression etc.

I use this principle:

Goods and services are distributed by consensual trade and not by coercion. The use of physical force where government steps in is only to defend each person's life, liberty and property.Also, any business is private property unless it is government operated. That doesn't mean businesses can do anything they want. The government must step in if they're doing harm to the public. Businesses are not public service and certainly are not public property.

When the government allows big business to manipulate laws, then it is the beginning of corruption. When businesses allow government to dictate what they are to do with irrational laws, then it's the beginning of corruption. It works both ways. As long as there is no physical harm done and any individual's well being being not jeopardized, there are no rights being breached. Being that our sensibilities are hurt is not a valid reason for the government to impose laws to prevent it. If we give that license to the government, imagine just how much the religious majority can do in order to let the public behave based on their morals and sensibilities. If given their way, cross-dressers may not be even allowed to go to the streets.

It is obvious to me that a business that does not allow cross-dressers in their premises is crap. Let the public decide their value as compared to their competition. But we cannot go there and force ourselves in in defiance of owner's preference or maybe we can go there even if the owners doesn't want us because it's the law.
Onotheo said…
If you think that I have internalized homophobia, then I'm not going to refute that. That's your opinion and is not relevant to the issue.

No, you do not understand where I am coming from at all. I certainly don't think I'm less than others. I'm merely reasoning based on reason alone and avoid coloring it with emotion.

It is obvious and is a fact that cross-dressers are being discriminated here. Discrimination by itself is not a crime but discrimination laws should apply where individuals are not allowed to compete(even if they are capable), express their views freely, participate in government or public service etc. But these should not be in conflict with the basic right to one's own property and preference. Even if Aruba admits that they think cross-dressers deserve to die, then they can do so as long as they do not actually kill them. They have freedom of expression. Cross-dressers can then say that Aruba deserves to be burnt down as long as they do not actually burn the place down. Cross-dressers can prove to the world they are equal to others without the need for government coercion against Aruba. The end does not justify the means.

Gay marriage is equal rights because it does not violate others' rights. Special rights are when a group is given license to violate others'.

@Line of flight

If your think that I think it's just about aesthetics, then you're missing the point.

I do agree that businesses must comply with government's laws on public accommodations because they have agreed to it in the first place by placing their businesses in the public access areas.

@a lass called sass

Racism by itself is not a crime but becomes one when other peoples' rights are violated. I know just how much many Filipinos can be racist and I'm not proud of it. I even think that most Filipinos I know of here in the east coast are racists even from my own family and friends.

And yes, there is nothing wrong with seeking government backing, hopefully the government makes the right decision.
line of flight said…
@Onotheo. Your faith in the free market is totally misplaced. Every public good that society enjoys is due to the government intervening in the market.

If you really believed in the ideology of "market as savior" you'd know that laws that prevent private discrimination of this type are actually better for business in the long-term -- because these kinds of oppressive social values (that Aruba is enforcing) stifle creativity and productivity in general. nothing like provincial/feudal narrow-mindedness to torpedo economic development with psychological games that drive up transactional costs.

Operating a business that sells alcohol is not a fundamental right and does not implicate the right to own private property (if you consider that a fundamental right). Operating a business of this kind is a conditioned privilege of the state.
Onotheo said…
@line of flight

Since we're talking economics here, I'm going to respond to you according to my view of economics as well.

I am in complete disagreement with you.

How about every economic depression there is in history is brought about by government intervention. It is the government bureaucracy that makes it hard to start a business even if someone has a superior product than the established popular ones. It is the government irrational regulations that hinders progress in technology and science. I believe in limited government intervention in economics as much as I believe in separation of government and religion.

In a true capitalistic market where production is not hindered by government regulations (which often are irrational), values are presented freely to the public and public freely choosing what they want. The only time government should intervene is when a business is causing harm to the public. When businesses want to stay on top, they have choices; present a better product, lower their prices, have a superior customer treatment (including cross-dressers). These drives down prices, encourage research for better products, encourage better training and treatment of employees. Values of products and services go up and our way of living improves. But when the government limits research or strategies because it is not agreeable to certain groups' morals, they limit progress together with it.

Business is a fundamental right. Owning a private property is a fundamental right. We do it daily on personal basis. We place values on things and make objective decisions base on their values or subjective decisions on aesthetics. When it comes to commercial businesses, our personal ethics applies and the government cannot dictate our morality save to defend our fundamental rights.
Elyong said…
Cross dressing is just one of the many others that Aruba prohibited entry. If we think that the establishment discriminated cross-dressers, could it be that they are also discriminating those who wanted to wear hats, sleeveless shirts, shorts for guys, flipflops, sandals and slippers? The issue is just about dress codes.

The problem with bb gandanghari as i read in his blog is that she thinks she is not cross dressing because she believes she is a woman.
PopMax said…
cross dressing????????
Herbs D. said…
pass the anti-discrimination bill!
PopMax said…
huh? special rights? if that's the case and if we are talking about cross dressing (which means we totally lost the point in the first place), then aruba should refuse entry to ALL women who wear pants, all men who wear earrings, women with short hair, men with long hair, blah blah blah chever chever chever.

i'm a capitalist at heart. if i owned a resto, i would want my customers to dress and act appropriately. kung may gusgusin at pobreng nakaflipflops sa fine dining ko, i'd want the person to wash up and get some shoes. i agree that lines have to be drawn and we all have the right to do whatever the heck we want within our property but you have to do that with a little humanity and sensibility. what if lahat ng customer ko for some reason showed up ng may bahid ng uling sa mukha? do i turn them all away? what if a customer came in wearing "islander" type slippers but with a bmw and a gucci wallet? it's not rocket science.

i am aware that some places in the states and europe enforce strict rules and actually turn some customers away (straight and straight acting men who don't wear jackets/suits and ties for example). but i'm pretty sure they'd think twice about refusing entry to someone who is obviously just a member of the LGBT community. not someone who is "acting out" and not someone who is just being stubborn. it's not because the LGBTs in those places demand/have "special rights" and it's not just a dress code issue.

what's aruba afraid of anyway? that people will now demand to go inside wearing clown suits? star wars get up? frat boys in full make up wearing cheerleading outfits? or simply in gusgusin couture? :D

it doesn't take a genius to figure out who's trying to get attention for whatever reason and who's merely being their DECENT self in spite of being different.

still afraid? fine. get a real good lawyer and security just in case.

if BB demanded to get in wearing a bikini, then i'd have an issue with her. not aruba.

fact is, a lot of other women were cross dressing that night. but only BB and Sass were singled out by aruba.

it's true that i can't enumerate or foresee all the possible scenarios that can happen if aruba opened their doors to "cross-dressers". though i'm pretty confident that a lot of them won't be negative. may bumagsak na bang negosyo sanhi ng pagpapapasok ng mga cross dressers sa tindahan, restaurant at opisina nila? :D kung nega nga, for every situation there is a solution. if aruba's owner/s and managers were true business people, they wouldn't be so quick to reject customers who are different.

i mean, in the end, it's still all about business. if a truly gusgusin person wanted to eat in my posh resto, assuming he was able to save enough money to pay for his meal, i'd figure out how to get his money, get the other customers' money, get the ones with money to come back (hint: a-list celebrities who usually bring a whole freagin' entourage) and keep my reputation intact.

just sayin' :)

while we're at it, can we stop it with the wrong pronouns when we talk about BB? it just shows that even we don't get the T in LGBT. it's equally embarrassing. it's stupid and it's getting old.
line of flight said…
@popmax, herbs: i totally agree.

@onotheo: we can agree to disagree.

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