Organizations advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning (LGBTIQ+) on Monday, June 14, vowed not to support candidates who have a record of disrimination or homophobia.
In an open letter addressed to all political parties, advocates also challenged aspiring candidates to bare their stance on LGBTIQ+ issues such as the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression or SOGIE Equality Bill, which is still pending in Congress; marriage equality; legal gender recognition; and support for LGBTIQ+ owned businesses.
The challenge was raised in time for the month-long celebration of Pride Month this June, saying that “Pride Month is a time to consolidate the strength of the Filipino LGBTIQ+ movement as a political force that can no longer remain in the sidelines of the country’s electoral agenda.”
They stressed that “[m]eaningful participation in democratic processes requires transparency and truthfulness on significant political questions that have direct implications on our lives.”
“As we advocate for equality and human rights for all as members of the LGBTIQ+ community, we need to assure our fellow LGBTIQ+ Filipinos that we have the right person, the candidate that is an ally to uphold their advocacy towards equality. It is the right time to step up and heed the call of equality. We will never be silenced anymore,” said Reyel Xavier Inocencio, Deputy Executive Director for Programs, Pioneer Filipino Transgender Men Movement.
According to the group, “politicians using religion to marginalize the LGBTIQ+ community such as Senators Manny Pacquiao, Joel Villanueva and Tito Sotto and those who remain silent on LGBTIQ rights don’t deserve to be elected. Religious bigots will not be able to bring positive change to the country,” claimed Regie Pasion, President, LGBTIQ+ Organization.
In a statement, Villanueva responded by saying that he recognizes "the right of everyone to campaign for their preferred candidates. That is the essence of democracy."
"Our challenge is to craft legislation that is fair to all sectors. This is why we support a comprehensive anti-discrimination bill that would protect all Filipinos from any form of discrimination---regardless of sex, race, gender, age, and belief, among others," Villanueva said.
PhilSTAR L!fe reached out to the offices of Senate President Sotto and Senator Pacquaiao but have both yet to respond.
Lawyer Clara Rita Padilla, executive director of the non-government rights group EnGendeRights, meanwhile, urged political parties “to support the LGBTIQ+ electoral agenda, ensure political participation and representation of LGBTIQ+ people, and field candidates supportive of LGBTIQ+ rights.”