Leni Robredo calls for equality, respect for all ahead of Pride March

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo called for respect and equality for all on the day of the Metro Manila Pride March and Festival on Saturday, June 29. (READ: Your guide to 2019 Metro Manila Pride March and Festival)

"A core principle of our human identity is respect for the dignity of others and equality of rights for all. Let this celebration also be a moment for each of us to renew our commitment to upholding these principles, both through legislation – such as the Anti-Discrimination Bill – and in our daily interactions," she said in a statement on Saturday.

The Vice President said she joins the LGBTQIA+ community in the Philippines and around the world in celebrating Pride Month.

Pride Month is held every June in remembrance of the Stonewall Riots, a series of demonstrations held by members of the LGBTQIA+ community in 1969 against a police raid of the Stonewall Inn in New York City.

"Pride Month is an opportunity for each of us to celebrate humanity’s wonderful and awe-inspiring diversity, and, more importantly, to recognize the fundamental truth that this diversity need not lead to division. That our differences in the identities we claim for ourselves, in the people we choose to love, and in the lives we choose to lead, do not inevitably set us against each other, so long as we can act with openness and respect," Robredo said in her statement.

She said that she dreams of a world of equality and respect, and finds inspiration in LGBTQIA+ advocates every Pride Month.

"Like all of you, I continue to dream of a Philippines, and a world, where all of us, regardless of differences, can act with respect, walk free from fear, and stand with pride and dignity. And every Pride Month, seeing firsthand the energy, the commitment, the courage, and the love, I am inspired in my belief: We will make it real."

Robredo is a long-time advocate of same-sex unions. In an interview with Winnie Monsod during the election campaign in January 2016, Robredo said: "Sa akin naman kasi 'pag illegal yung same-sex na partnership, kahit civil union lang yan parang very discriminatory. Yung gobyerno naman, it’s for everyone… who you choose to live with is a human right na hindi pwedeng paki-alamanan sana ng gobyerno."

(To me, if same-sex partnerships are illegal, even civil unions, that’s very discriminatory. The government is for everyone. Who you choose to live with is a human right that the government should not meddle in.)

In contrast, President Rodrigo Duterte has made conflicting statements on LGBTQIA+ issues. During his campaign in 2016, he took a liberal stand, but has since used words like "bakla" and "bayot" – Filipino for gay – as insults against his political opponents. 

In March 2017, Duterte said marriage was only for a man and a woman, but later said at an LGBT gathering that he thought the law could be changed to allow same-sex marriage.

This year, members of the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies will come together at the Marikina Sports Center on June 29 for the Metro Manila Pride March. – Rappler.com