With the anti-discrimination bill (ADB) pending in Congress for 19 years now, hundreds of LGBTQIA Filipinos gathered in various locations all over the Philippines to stress that “the time for equality is now”.
Dubbed “Fight for Love. Fight for Equality”, the rally in Metro Manila took place at the People Power Monument, where – earlier – an anti-ADB rally held by extremist Christians was also held; in Cebu, at Fuente Osmena Circle; and in General Santos City, at the Queen Tuna Park.
The SOGIE Equality Bill was already passed by the likes of Reps. Geraldine Roman and Kaka Bag-ao in the House of Representatives in 2017, the first time it went this far in 11 years; and yet the Senate version – that is in the hands of Liberal Party-aligned Akbayan partylist helmed by Sen. Risa Hontiveros – is not gaining grounds.
The gatherings specifically pointed out the non-support for the ADB of Senators Manny Pacquiao and Vicente Sotto III ; and the backtracking of his support for the ADB by Senator Joel Villanueva.
According to Anastacio Marasigan of TLF Share, co-organizer of the event, “We have to pressure our senators that SOGIE Equality Bill is necessary, relevant and significant, not just to the LGBTQI Filipinos, but to everyone.”
Marasigan added that “we need an enabling legal framework to protect everyone from discrimination, violence stigma, biases, bigotry, sexism, and objectification. We have to lay the foundation for the next generation of LGBTQIs based on respect, freedom and love.”
Since the ADB has been languishing in Congress for just under 20 years now, Marasigan said that the struggle continues.
“(We need to) create critical awareness among Filipinos that LGBTQIs are part of the community and we are not and should not be part of the invisible population. The voices and presence of Filipino LGBTQIs must be heard.”
Moving forward, Marasigan suggests for members of the LGBTQI community to “use the power of social media” and to “mobilize our allies in other sectors (business, academe, labor, et cetera) that this SOGIE equality is also important and significant to their respective sectors.”