By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community here welcomed the passage of an anti-discrimination ordinance and the progress made in passing its national equivalent, House Bill No. 4982, and called for a continuing education on gender equality in a program and in the pride parade on Sunday, December 3.
The Baguio City ordinance was approved by the city council on February 5, years after it was filed in 2012. It sets fines of up to P5,000 for government or private employees who obstruct a person’s access to work, accommodations, public services or political undertakings because of his or her sexual preference.
House Bill No. 4982 on the other hand was recently passed on third reading in congress.
Joseph Villaflor, Amianan Pride Council chairperson, said the new laws recognize the struggles of the LGBT community and would deter bad behavior. “But laws are not enough because the public still needs to be educated about equality,” he said.
Villaflor, who also serves as head of the UP Baguio student council gender desk, said anti-discrimination laws could serve as “stepping stones to broadening public consciousness about gender rights beyond simple debates as to which comfort rooms gay people must use.”
“LGBT rights are human rights, so LGBTs should be accorded the same respect and treatment given to heterosexuals,” Villaflor said.
Villaflor further said that LGBTs also fall victims to state perpetuated violence. He said that LGBTs do not exist in a vacuum and that they suffer the same repression and oppression as the rest of the Filipino people.
Villaflor said that just as they continue to fight against gender based violence and discrimination, they will support the fight against human rights violations as a whole.
On its 11th staging, the parade, assembled by the Amianan Pride Council, was led by the University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio student council.
Marching on Session Road carrying their rainbow flags, the established LGBT colors, gay men and women and their supporters chanted “Makibeki, ’wag mashokot,” a pun on the activist chant “Makibaka, huwag matakot (Fight, do not be afraid).”
Some participants joined the parade wearing winged fairy costumes. One of the men wore a wedding dress. Tausug transgender Brigite Salvatore, who was first runner-up in the Miss Trans Queen International pageant in November, joined the parade. # nordis.net