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ILOILO CITY, Philippines – Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community here called for improved observance of this city’s anti-discrimination ordinance four years after the city council approved the measure.
During Iloilo City’s Pride March on Saturday, June 25, Gabriel Felix Umadhay, lead convenor of the Iloilo LGBTQIA+ Network and head of the city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said the local government and advocacy organizations still need to push for greater gender justice, access to health services and facilities, and equal opportunity and employment.
In 2018, the city passed the anti-discrimination ordinance banning and penalizing acts of discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, ethnic origin, and religious beliefs.
Around 1,500 members of the community joined the march and bike ride along Benigno Aquino Sr. Avenue in Mandurriao district, said the Office of LGBT Affairs.
Attendees wore colorful, Pride-related garb, including anime-like costumes, to celebrate their individuality and stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community across the country and worldwide.
Umadhay stressed the need for national legislation with “teeth against perpetrators of hate crimes, for gender justice.”
He also noted that many government services remain “limited to cisgender persons.”
Irish Inoceto, chairperson of the Iloilo Pride Team, said they want to join LGBTQ+ groups nationwide in pushing for visibility. The community also needs to step up pressure on Congress to finally pass the SOGIE equality bill, which has been refiled for years.
“We want to make the Philippines safe for everybody,” said Inoceto, adding that this includes women and other marginalized sectors.
Maviyah Lee Debarbo, a proud ally who attended the march, said Pride events are both a celebration of individual personalities and a continuous cry for equality.
“As an ally, I envision a much more diverse and safer environment for the community. Especially in schools, as early as possible, let us create a learning environment where they teach how to respect others without making any gender-based discrimination, and insults that can emotionally and mentally hurt those who are part of the community,” she said.
Pride is neither “a parade of extravagance nor a display of colors and faces,” said marcher Praby Ubas.
“It is a march for society to hear and finally acknowledge the voices of the unheard and oppressed members of the community with their allies,” he said, adding that the task “is as important as our fight for democracy and justice in our country.” – Rappler.com