The campaign for the passage of the anti-discrimination bill (ADB), regardless of version, has been one of the battlecries of the LGBT community in the Philippines for over 17 years now. And getting people on board – especially politicians – continues to be a challenge.
The sad truth is not all lawmakers support ADB, said Marikina 2nd District Representative Romero “Miro” Quimbo, one of the authors of the latest version of the ADB, “because of [their] ardent refusal to recognize the new normal,” Quimbo said in an exclusive Outrage Magazine interview.
But waxing positive, Quimbo said that “it’s just a matter of time for people to really wake up. This is a free world that recognizes the weaknesses and strengths of each person; we need to contribute to those who can contribute to the society. And the quicker we (are) able to get over our biases, (the quicker) it’s going to be for the betterment of our country.”
Quimbo stressed: “I think it’s time for them to wake-up. No individual or sexual orientation has the monopoly of the truth.”
RECOGNIZING THE NEED
Quimbo believes in the importance of having an anti-discrimination law for LGBT Filipinos.
“First, it’s to prevent any form of discrimination, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, or even religion. There are certain things that we managed to already set aside, in terms of hiring, in terms of promotion… It’s now time to recognize and penalize a particular behavior. People say it’s not a lot, but I think it’s a major first step for us to do,” he said.
As it was prior to his administration, during former President Benigno Aquino III’s term, several bills linked to LGBT discrimination were filed, but none of them prospered. After the change in administration, LGBT-related bills surfaced once again. But this time, they are – finally – already gaining traction.
“I’m almost certain that it will pass in the Lower House,” Quimbo said, adding that “I can’t really speak for the Senate.”
For Quimbo, “it’s very innocuous. Innocuous in a sense that it’s not very politically laden. I don’t see the major religious lobby groups opposing it because it does not really talk about same-sex marriage or thereabouts, which is more contentious. So I anticipate – and I’m quite hopeful – that it will become a law.”
ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY
Many lawmakers continue to dance around the concept of marriage equality, but Quimbo is open about his support at least for civil unions.
“I have always said that I think at the right time, a law will eventually be passed recognizing civil unions of individuals regardless of race, regardless of sexual orientation,” he said.
“People should not complicate the matter. Homosexuality is no longer looked at as a psychological aberration, but a normal behavior. So therefore, they are entitled to the rights given to normal individuals; and marriage, common ownership, as well as protection of that union is part and parcel of it. They have the same rights that other people have. I think it’s as basic as that,” Quimbo said.
THE FATHER, THE ALLY
Quimbo is a father to three boys.
During the Outrage Magazine interview, he recalled what he told them about being who or what they want to be. “The other week, I talked to my three boys and I told them that, at the end of the day, you guys need to decide what you need to do when you turn 18. You can choose your religion, you can choose your political affiliation, you can choose your sexual orientation. But it’s better that you do it at a mature age, because it’s not influenced; meaning it’s a very conscious decision.”
Quimbo sees himself an LGBT ally who continues to remind LGBT people to “keep pushing. It will not be where it is if people were just sitting on their asses, literally. Meaning, people have to accept the fact that it’s a challenge, and people have to embrace the challenge and keep pushing the envelope, so people can get more educated,” Qumbo said. “And be examples. I think that’s very critical so more people can really be convinced.”