Photo by Jvee Alcayaga

Text by John Patrick Manio

Culminating this year’s Pride Month, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) groups and supporters advocated the call for equality and the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB) into law in the University of the Philippines (UP) Pride March last Friday.

The ADB promises to tend to the ongoing struggles of minorities including but not exclusive to the LGBTQ+ community as they strive to fight against discrimination in their workspaces, family, and community. The bill does not, however, seek to legalize same-sex marriages.

Just Wednesday, the ADB was approved in the second reading in the House of Representatives.

“The Anti-Discrimination Bill is not only for the LGBTQIA+ community but also for the common people and that LGBTQ+ rights are also human rights. Events like UP Pride mainstreams the idea that gender should be equal and that opportunities should be non-discriminatory towards a person’s SOGIE,” said UP Babaylan Punong Babaylan Vince Liban.

The legislation was crafted 17 years ago by late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Akbayan Representative Etta Rosales with the help of Lesbian and Gay Legislative Network (LAGABLAB), the country’s first LGBT lobby group.

In 2006, Rosales filed it to Congress as House Bill 5687, but it only reached the second hearing in the lower house. The ADB was again revived as House Bill 267 with Bataan First District Rep. Geraldine Roman and Senator Risa Hontiveros as its champions.

In a 2013 Pew Research Center (PRC) report, 70 percent of Filipinos said that homosexuality should be ‘accepted’ by Filipinos, however, Manila-based activist Ging Cristobal together with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said that although “there is high tolerance here, there’s not real acceptance”.

“A lot of people would like to say that the Philippines is a very LGBT friendly nation, especially here in Asia, and it’s great that we recognize the community but a lot of it is more on tolerance than acceptance,” said Senior Public Administration UP student Mikey Eubanas who is a first time participant at UP Pride.

“We should aim for acceptance and we have a long way to go. But Pride is a great way to get there,” Eubanas added

UP Babaylan Former Secretary and Internal Affairs Committee Head Amber Quiban recognized that their fight for equality is not yet over.

“… the bill is still stuck in the period of interpellation. So for the next steps, UP Babaylan will continue to push for the bill in the House of Representatives, and for our Senators, we will collate the support statements of the UP community for the passage of the ADB in the Senate,” said Quiban in an online interview.  

UP Pride is an annual event organized by premiere UP LGBTQ+ student organization Babaylan, which aims to celebrate gender equality and foster discriminatory-free attitude towards the LGBTQ +community.

The march started from Quezon Hall where a gigantic rainbow display was mounted. The contingent paraded around the Academic Oval and stopped in front of Melchor Hall where the formal program was held.

Performances from UP students and drag celebrity impersonations including those of  Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and Adele formed the bulk of the program.


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