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Zamboanga City’s Pride highlights progress made, ongoing issues that need attention

Zamboanga City in southern Philippines marked Pride for 2024 via an event helmed by its LGBTQIA-affirming local government unit. According to Mujer-LGBT Organization president Toni Gee Fernandez, Pride remains important because it “celebrates the progress made in the LGBTQIA rights movement, and highlights ongoing issues that need attention.”

Viva, Zamboanga!

Zamboanga City in southern Philippines marked Pride for 2024 via an event helmed by its LGBTQIA-affirming local government unit (LGU) through the Gender and Development Services, in partnership with the Mujer LGBT Organization, and LGBTQIA+ Zamboanga Federation.

Themed “Marcha de Orgullo: Celebracion de Amor, Amistad y Colores”, the event was said to showcase Mayor John Dalipe solidarity with the local LGBTQIA community as he reaffirmed his administration’s support. “Este tarde, ta marcha quita para afirma que el Zamboanga un ciudad donde todo persona tiene derecho para expresa y ama con todo corazon. Sin miedo, sin obstraccion, y sin duda que tiene govierno local ay depende su bien esta (This afternoon, we are marching to affirm that Zamboanga is a city where every person has the right to express themselves and love with all their heart. Without fear, without obstruction, and without doubt that the local government will support their well-being),” he was quoted as saying.

In a statement to Outrage Magazine, Mujer-LGBT Organization president Toni Gee Fernandez said that Pride remains important because it “celebrates the progress made in the LGBTQIA rights movement, and highlights ongoing issues that need attention. They also provide a platform for visibility, community support, advocacy, and generating public support to combat discrimination and promote acceptance.” As such, “Pride marches remind society that equality and acceptance are ongoing struggles and not yet fully realized everywhere.”

Zamboanga City is among the more progressive LGUs in Mindanao, and already has an anti-discrimination ordinance that protects the human rights of its LGBTQIA constituents.

An issue for the local LGBTQIA community is the continuing impact of HIV. Based on the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU)-9 report, from 1991 to March 2023, 1,740 HIV cases were recorded in the Zamboanga Peninsula. In Zamboanga City alone, from January to March 2023, there were 44 new HIV cases, so that the total for the city is now 855. Among the regions with the highest number of cases, Zamboanga Peninsula is the 13th LGU with the highest number of diagnosed HIV cases in the Philippines.

Zamboanga City’s Pride also saw the recognition of local LGBTQIA narratives, with three Pride participants honored for their inspiring testimonies: a representative from the Indigenous Peoples, a senior citizen, and a person with special needs. Additionally, awards were handed out to select participants of the Parade.

Present to show solidarity were Vice Mayor Josephine Pareja, Councilor Al-Jihan Edding, CSWDO Head Ma. Socorro Rojas, and GAD Officer Wilfredo Aporongao and staff.

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