Thursday, March 29, 2007

Be Safe

Based on the growing reports of assault, robbery and murder that specifically target gay men, Along side this warning, we would also like to share the following information.

The guidelines aim to improve the security of the gay community. However, I would like to emphasize that these are not fail-safe measures; the best way is still to veer away from areas or opportunities where your safety may be compromised.

Most often, we ignore signs of danger because we don’t want to miss the opportunity presented before us. In these instances, it is better to let go of the situation in favor of our safety. Always remember that there are plenty of “safe” opportunities to meet new people for the possibility of sex, friendship or romantic relationships.

Weekend Cruise – gimmick nights

If you’re going out on a gimmick, it is best to go out with a group of friends and make sure you look out for each other.

While in a bar, a club or a party, it is understandable that one would have drinks. However, keep your alcohol intake in check.

When you are drunk or out of it, you are more likely to have a faulty memory or make poor judgments. Worse,you may be targeted by bad elements precisely because of your condition.

Also, always protect your valuables. Do not bring large amounts of cash, or leave your wallet or cell phone in sight.

In some of the reports, there are indications that the victims’ drinks were spiked with drugs that cause tiredness or disorientation. Thus, the victims lose control and are easier to rob or assault.

Here are a number of things you can do to avoid getting spiked drinks:

if someone you just met offers to buy you a drink, go to the bar with them do not leave your drink unattended;

if you are drinking bottled water, leave the cap on the bottle

do not sip from other people’s drinks

if you suddenly begin to feel tired or dizzy, immediately inform your companion(s) or the bar’s security staff (if there are any)

In case you meet someone new at a bar or a club:

get to know him by casually asking probing questions (his name, who he’s with, where he stays, where he works, etc.)

introduce him to your friends, make sure they get a good look at him (with enough lighting), and that he knows about it (this allows you and your friends to be able to identify him, should the need arise;

it also discourages a possible perpetrator because he knows he can be properly identified)

if you are going to proceed somewhere else, make sure that your friends know about it. If you are going to his place, it’s better if you can get his address and pass it on to your friends. Be as accurate as possible.

it is strongly advised that you do not bring strangers into your house,especially when you live alone if you decide to bring him to your place, inform a friend that you are bringing a guest to your house

also, let your guest know or let him think that someone else is staying with you (a roommate or household help, etc.), even if there is none

If a drunk friend is leaving the bar or the club:

encourage him to stay until he has sobered up a bit (offer water or juice) put him in a taxi (and take note of the taxi name, and plate number) if he’s not feeling okay, drive him home or call someone to pick them up.

Cyber cruise – chatting and eyeballs

If you are meeting someone you met from a chat room:

meet in a public place like a cafĂ© or a restaurant text or call a friend to inform them where you are going if you decide to go to his place, inform your friend as well; again, it’s better if you can get his address and pass it on to your friend. It is strongly advised that you do not bring a stranger into your house, especially when you live alone.

If you decide to bring him to your place, inform a friend about it if you decide to bring him to your place, let him know or let him think that someone else is staying with you (a roommate or household help, etc)
even if there is none.

All-night Cruise – gay cruising areas

Recently, the authorities have also raided several public places frequented by gay men in the guise of arresting call boys, who are supposedly behind the assault and the murders. As a result, several gay men have also been arrested.

In these instances, it is best to know or have the following to avoid arrest:

keep in mind that cruising exposes you to the danger of arrest and other physical harm hanging out in a place, even if it has a reputation of being a cruising area, is not illegal.

however, you can be arrested if you are caught having sex (because of “public scandal”) or committing some other unlawful behavior (e.g. breaking public property such as street lamps, rest rooms, etc.) it is also very possible that the authorities will file charges that may or may not have basis (e.g. vagrancy, loitering, littering, breaking the curfew, etc.) in these instances, it is best to bring a valid identification (especially when charged with vagrancy or breaking the curfew)

Street safety

There is always a possibility that you will be harassed while on the street, especially at night. Here are some helpful tips to significantly reduce the risks while you are out:

trust your instincts; if something doesn’t feel right get away

always stay alert and act confident

walk with a group, like a friend or stick close to other gay men or lesbians

walk in well-lit areas

carry a whistle or a personal alarm, which may be useful to ward off a
possible attack

avoid walking through groups of rowdy young men, casually cross the
road and avoid eye contact.

keep your car or home keys handy, so that it would easier to enter a safe
space when needed

always make sure you set aside enough money to get home (have a taxi
fare ready, in case its necessary)

familiarize yourself with areas that have a reputation for trouble

Verbal abuse

Verbal abuse and name-callings are often indicative of the possibility of an assault. No matter how provocative these terms are or how witty you can be in giving out retorts, the primary concern should be your own safety:

remain calm when being provoked; most often, hecklers only get more encouraged when they see that you are affected.

if you are alone and the hecklers are many, it is better to ignore the provocation.

if you really wish to show them how witty you are, make sure that you are in a position where escape (when assaulted) is possible.

if the heckler is drunk, then there is really no sense in getting angry or arguing back

if the provocation comes with threats of assault, walk away as quickly as possible – it is better to have a bruised ego than have a bruised body.

report verbal abuse, especially physical threats, to authorities (such as the barangay council or the police)

Physical Assault

Physical assaults sometimes happen even if unprovoked or despite our attempts to avert it.

If you are being attacked, remember the following:

get away so soon as you can and seek help

stay calm and concentrate but try to make as much noise as you can to attract other people’s attention

try to check if the attacker has back-ups; if there are many attackers, it is very important to find a way to escape as soon as possible.

if you are cornered and on the floor, curl up and cover your head with your arms then roll to a more open and visible place, where escape or getting help is possible.

if you intend to attack back, remember that the most immediate goal is to incapacitate the attacker from giving further blows. Hit the attacker in “soft areas” where extreme pain is possible, such as the eyes, throat, and the crotch. Run away as soon as the opportunity to do so arises.

Get the details -- try to remember as many details as possible about the attacker, especially the physical and facial features of the perpetrator. immediately get medical attention and have a medico-legal examination also, report the incident to authorities as soon as possible (such as the barangay council or the police)

Violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender affects everyone. Every attack against one of us is in reality an assault against the LGBT community. The growing reports of assault and murder against gay men should be a cause of concern, not only of the police, but of the whole

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