And so last night, when Quezon City (QC) held its first LGBT Pride celebrations, QC mayor Herbert Bautista finally formally announced the release of his “gift” to the LGBT people of his city – the so-called “Gender-Fair City Ordinance”, which eyes to protect LGBT rights in the workplace, in schools, in accommodation and in accessing basic services.
The anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO), authored by first district Councilor Lena Marie Juico, expands the 2003 Quezon City Ordinance No. 1309 that prohibits discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace. It also takes off from Bautista’s office order in 2013 that saw the creation of the Quezon City Pride Council (QCPC) to integrate the LGBT community in government programs.
The ADO was, by the way, signed a few days earlier. But it was only released last night, timed for the big event – inevitably (even if this is unintentional) relegating the value of the ADO to what we refer to in PR talk as media traction/mileage.
Last night wasn’t the first time Bautista insisted on using the word “gift” to refer to human rights. Sometime in October, when the news broke that the Philippines’ largest city’s council passed the ADO, he went on record to say that its is his “gift” to the city.
No one corrected him then.
And no one, so far, corrected him again last night.
And this gets to me.
With so many LGBT people – leaders even – claiming to have Bautista’s confidence, no one is giving him feedback on how a single bad word muddy what should be a celebrated development.
As if our rights not to get discriminated is his to give.
And so the ADO – the supposed protection of the rights of LGBT people in Quezon City – now seems like a calculated political move, after all.
I say to politicians to stop toying with us.
Stop withholding our rights.
Stop making us wait when it’s convenient for you.
But I also say to LGBT leaders working with these politicians to start opening your mouths when you should. Go beyond the bling – e.g. the VIP areas that cordon the common LGBT people from the supposed shakers and movers, the photo ops with celebs, the self-congratulatory awards, et cetera. Tama na ang pagpapagamit.
The LGBT community is holding you accountable for the blunders of the politicians you work with.
And members of the LGBT community rightfully should.
Enough of us in the LGBT community getting used for – I abhor these words – political expediency.
And it starts with us actually not allowing ourselves get used.