Cebu gay politician: It's not gender but track record that matters
MANILA, Philippines – Garry Lao, a gay candidate gunning for a Cebu City North District council seat, believes that gender is not a hindrance in public service.
“It’s not about your gender. It’s not about what can be seen, your outward appearance, or who you are, or what you are. What’s important is that you can deliver,” Lao, a gay said in a mix of Bisaya and English.
Voters of Barangay Tejero in Cebu City elected the village councilor for 3 consecutive terms. Lao got the top votes in the past two elections.
“For 9 years, na-address gyud niya ang problems especially sa youth (For 9 years, he has really addressed the problems especially of the youth),” said Almar Carl, the councilor’s secretary and a native of Brgy Tejero.
If he wins in the May 9 election, he said he would carry on the plans of his coalition BOPK (Bando Osmeña Pondok Kauswagan) to provide free primary, secondary, and tertiary education to the youth.
He also plans to create a commission for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in accordance with Cebu City's Ordinance 2339 or the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance passed in 2012. He said that a commission is needed to carry out the plans laid out in the policy.
Lao said that the member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community who is community is deprived of many opportunities because of the absence of an agency that promotes their rights and welfare.
When a commission is created, members of the LGBT community could participate in governance by crafting policies and organizing activities that benefit the sector.
At least two provinces and 10 cities and towns have enacted anti-discrimination ordinances that include sexual orientation and gender identity, according to a University of the Philippines study.
The latest city which passed an anti-discrimination ordinance is Mandaue City in Cebu.
However, some members of the LGBT community in Cebu said they did not feel the government wanted to address their issues beyond the ordinance.
"Though kadtong naa daw ordinance, but then mura’g wala koy nadunggan so far nga mura’g activities or projects nga sa community nga obvious kaayo ang pag-push nila," said 20-year-old Donna Ocmeja.
(Though there is an ordinance, I haven’t heard about activities or projects in the community that clearly push our interests.)
"I always feel like we're just volunteer workers rather than an affected sector...And I guess, some of the politicians are homophobic," said 20-year-old Paulo Salada.
Senatorial bet Representative Manny Pacquiao recently remarked that couples in same-sex marriages "are worse than animals."
The LGBT community in Cebu is calling on candidates to include gender rights as a major election issue, noting that the anti-discrimination bill has languished in Congress for more than two decades already. – Rappler.com
Fritzy Yañez and Julie Bedas are lead Movers in Cebu