June 28, 2009 in Baguio City
By Wendy Atuban
BAGUIO CITY — In the call for acceptance and equality of all genders, different organizations under the Baguio Pride Network joined the rest of the world commemorate the “Stonewall Inn event” with a kick-off program Monday morning here.
The infamous and violent raid of a gay bar in New York in 1969 sparked off the worldwide protest movement of gays that is now commemmorated as the Stonewal event. This is the third year of an organized celebration of Pride Week in the city.
The Baguio Pride Network is an alliance of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) groups and individuals advocating equality, respect and recognition of LGBTs as responsible and productive members of society. It was established last year with the goal of consolidating the LGBT community in the city.
Jude Baggo of the Pro-Gay Baguio organization said Pride Network calls for the advancement of equality and recognition of LGBTs as members of society. “We are part of society, so we are bound to be recognized,” he said.
As far as the different gay organizations are concerned, Philippine society has a relatively high degree of tolerance for homosexuals, they say. Mary Gyknell Tangente, head of the gender desk of the University of the Philippines Baguio student council said Baguio community in general is open-minded and havea high level of recognition for gays’ rights.
Although, she admitted that most discrimination cases are not reported. She also stated that the cross-dressers are usually the subject of such discrimination.
Mike Sotero of the Metropolitan Community Church, a church established for homosexuals, claims however, that what the LGBTs need is acceptance more than just recognition. He further stated that the church, of all the sectors in the community, is the one which discriminates against homosexuals the most.
Baggo agrees saying, “Simbahan ang pinakamalakas mag-discriminate” (The church discriminates [against gays] the strongest).” Baggo said that Pro Gay Baguio is pushing for the creation of an anti-discrimination law in the church, the workplace, and the family, and for the emphasis on the role of the gays in nation-building.
The church and workplace are settings where gay discriminations usually happen. Sotero claimed gays are discriminated at the Baguio Export Processing Zones (BEPZ). He also cited as example of church discrimination as when it forbids homosexuals from joining the Santacruzan. He cited a case which happened last year, and he condemns it.
Besides the church and the workplace, some bars in the city are also discriminating against gays through certain policies like prohibiting man-to-man dancing. Sotero said this should not be the case because gays are customers and they pay just like others.
Activities of the week-long commemoration includes film showing, an ecumenical mass, a forum on gay rights, and a parade on Sunday along major thoroughfares here. # nordis.net