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The fight for LGBTQIA human rights has just started – Regie Pasion

Meet Regie Pasion, who helms Marikina City-based LGBTBus Philippines. “Some LGBTQIA people have settled into a melancholic place in society where the accepted norm is to think that we are just second class citizens, and that we should (just accept this), stripped of our rights and genuine freedom,” he says, adding that this needs to change.

Regie Pasion said he realized the importance of secularism sometime in 2011.

He particularly realized, he said, “that when religion and government affairs intertwine, human rights are compromised and genuine freedom is put in danger.” And when this happens, for him, “ordinary people who love freedom and democracy should make a stand and fight.”

Among these “ordinary people” are members of the LGBTQIA community.

“(They have) long been marginalized and left behind because of ignorance and bigotry,” Regie said, adding that “homophobia – which is the prime reason why cruelty resonates in the LGBTQIA community – should be addressed, and exterminated. Discrimination of our community based on our SOGIESC should stop so that equal opportunity among people may materialize.”

This is why Regie said he became an LGBTQIA activist.

“When religion and government affairs intertwine, human rights are compromised and genuine freedom is put in danger.” – Regie Pasion

This is, actually, also personal for Regie.

“Since time immemorial, I (remember being) a victim of bullying just because of my sexuality. My own family bullied me; my friends, classmates and even people I do not know (bullied me),” he said. “That was when I realized that something should be done (to stop) bigotry and hate.”

By 2015, Regie helmed the establishment of LGBTBus Philippines. Based in Marikina City, it hosted the very first Pride march in the city where it is located; and then – from 2017 to 2019 – hosted the the commercialized Metro Manila Pride parade.

LGBTBus Philippines also has efforts eyeing to help deal with HIV in the Philippines, particularly among the young key affected populations.

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“My own family bullied me; my friends, classmates and even people I do not know (bullied me),” Regie Pasion said. “That was when I realized that something should be done (to stop) bigotry and hate.”

But there remain numerous challenges – e.g. the SOGIE Equality Bill is still not a law, with politicians hindering its passage for over 20 years now.

And then there’s internal bickering within the LGBTQIA community.

“It’s so sad and disappointing that our community is splintered and… polarized,” Regie said. “Some LGBTQIA community members have settled into a melancholic place in society where the accepted norm is to think that we are just second class citizens, and that we should (just accept this), stripped of our rights and genuine freedom.”

All the same, “as the saying goes, ‘Laban lang (Just keep fighting)’,” Regie said.

For him, “all the necessary frameworks to further the LGBTQIA cause are already in place – e.g. we have the SOGIE Equality Bill, and though same-sex marriage was jettisoned by the Supreme Court, there are proposed laws in the Lower House (like the civil union act) that’s in limbo but worthy of a fight.”

Regie stressed that even in seeming defeats – e.g. when politicians stall, or actually openly say anti-LGBTQIA positions by hindering pro-equality laws – “it doesn’t mean that the fight is over. I believe that it has just started.”

Regie is inspired by the LGBTQIA community in the country being “driven, determined and persistent.” Because for him, “these are our good traits needed to achieve genuine freedom, equal opportunity and equality.” In the end, he said, “our dreams will materialize if we do not stop and surrender. The fight is still far from over, so we should not stop… Tuloy ang laban (The fight continues).”

Even in seeming defeats – e.g. when politicians stall, or actually openly say anti-LGBTQIA positions by hindering pro-equality laws – “it doesn’t mean that the fight is over. I believe that it has just started.”

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