To recognize and support the plight of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the Philippines and to celebrate the LGBT Pride month, the US Embassy in Manila held a reception hosted by US Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg.
The annual gathering was attended by over 100 guests, including members of different local LGBT organizations, human rights advocates, and allies who support the fight against discrimination.
During the reception, the ambassador recognized the triumphs that the LGBT community reached.
“The LGBT community has achieved a lot of things, this year in particular, and that’s a reason to celebrate,” Amb. Goldberg said.
This year in particular, parts of the US and some other countries worldwide now officially recognize same-sex marriages. Earlier, in 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled over DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act), declaring it unconstitutional.
The results of the SC ruling were felt all of the world, including in the Philippines, with one of the positive effects of the decision was that the US government can now grant visas to fiancés and spouses of same-sex couples.
“We are honored to say that one of the first visas was issued issued here in the Philippines,” Amb. Goldberg said, “same-sex marriage is now officially recognized in 18 US states, as compared with only 12 last year this time around, and eight more state courts have ruled that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.”
Amb. Goldberg also highlighted the “Being LGBT in Asia” project, an initiative spearheaded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It was a first-of-its-kind look at reviewing and analyzing the legal and social environment of LGBTs and the civil society. The national report derived from Being LGBT in Asia was authored by Outrage Magazine editor Michael David C. Tan.
“[That effort] is an example of our commitment to build respect and protect the human rights of LGBT persons everywhere,” Amb. Goldberg said.
He also noted that in the Philippines, when it comes to fighting for equal rights, they have strong ties, which “make our advocacy effective. [And] without them, who work every day for a more equal Philippines, our goal would be harder to reach.”
Amb. Goldberg also presented the “Visa Equality” video, a short feature on how fiancé visas changed the lives of same-sex couples.
“As members or advocates of the LGBT community issues, please be out, be proud, and know that the United States government supports you in your efforts to make the world more equal. [And] to all the LGBT and human rights advocates here with us, thank you for your work and I encourage you to continue your important efforts to bring equality to all Filipinos,” Amb. Goldberg said.