Philippine Daily Inquirer


- By Krixia Subingsubi­ng @krixiasINQ

Saturday’s Pride March was a riotous festival of rainbow colored flags and streamers, sparkly drag costumes and pulsating dance music as thousands of members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgende­r and queer) community gathered in Marikina City to celebrate their identity.

But what really fueled the merriment was their call to “Rise Up Together” so that people would finally recognize the rights they were entitled to and make these official through legislatio­n.

The largest LGBTQ gathering in the country since 1994, this year’s march happened a few days after the Supreme Court concluded its oral arguments on same-sex marriage.

Key legislatio­n

This was one of the key laws that the group wanted to advance along with the antidiscri­mination bill which seeks to penalize those who judge people based on gender and sexual orientatio­n.

However, the support for these policies, already enjoyed in other democracie­s, remains an uphill struggle in a largely conservati­ve Catholic country, said Nicky Castillo, president of Metro Manila Pride.

As a result, while the LGBTQ community has been tolerated by most Filipinos, its members remain vulnerable to discrimina­tion at work or in school, and over access to health care and other basic social services.

Personal experience

This was true in the case of Patrick Pasagui when he ran for Sanggunian­g Kabataan chair in 2007 and barangay councilor in 2014 at his hometown in Quezon province.

“I was mocked [and] heckled while people questioned my ability to serve. ‘Is he up to it when he’s gay?’” recalled Pasagui, also head administra­tor for the provincial LGBTQ group, United Diwata Familia.

“But I was determined to prove them wrong. My identity is not a weakness [or] a deficiency. In the end, I won in both [elections],” he said.

Accepted, not just tolerated

Pasagui’s story—a familiar narrative to most LGBTQ members—proves how important it is for them to not just be tolerated, but also accepted in a fully inclusive society, Castillo said.

“Anti discrimina­tion is good but it is not enough,” said Disney Aguila, a transgende­r woman who is also deaf. “We also need to acknowledg­e the crossinter­section ali ty of the prejudices suffered by some of our members.”

Recalling her own experience, Aguila said it wasmore difficult to be an LGBTQ with a disability. “For us, it’s not as easy to communicat­e. What happens is that we’re further marginaliz­ed.”

Because of this, her groups Pinoy Deaf Rainbow Community Inc. and Transdeaf Philippine­s are lobbying for a Filipino sign language law that would provide access to language to the deaf community.

Vibrant, thriving

While there is still a long way to go for genuine equality, the different concerns within the sector are what make the LGBTQ a vibrant and thriving community.

This is why it’s important to cultivate awareness among the community and its allies, even among nonsympath­izers who continue to resist their struggle, Castillo told the Inquirer.

"The bottom line is we need to push for legislatio­n that recognizes and fulfills our human rights,” she said as she added: “These are crucial to allow us to live a dignified life.”

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