Pride, and how allies can help LGBTQIA+ fight for equality, fair treatment
The Philippines is known for being a religious country sensitive to issues on sexuality. As I browse social media, it burdens me to know that some of my friends are being asked to correct themselves, confess that they are wrong for being part of the LGBTQIA+ community, and even told to “cleanse” themselves so they can be acceptable to society.
Such stories prompt many people to stay inside the closet and open up on their true sexuality only to their closest friends who will accept them for who they really are. Aside from acceptance, they are deprived of basic rights and equality. I am surrounded by members of the gay community, most of whom are friends and colleagues. I don’t see them as a social plague, but as people who have a lot to offer to society. Most of them are significant contributors to national development and the economy, and don’t deserve mistreatment and discrimination.
While we cannot deny that our society is now more open to and accepting of LGBTQIA+, there are still some people who shame members of this community, and use social media to do it. As an ally, I want to be treated well and want equality for everyone no matter their social status or sexual orientation. It will certainly help people to feel loved. Giving acceptance and equality won’t cost us allies anything, while providing a huge help to the gay community.
The community is beyond grateful as well to have its allies take the extra step of having the Sogie bill passed in Congress. This year’s Pride Month just made history. Multiple events were organized by different organizations, mostly from the private sector. Even as a first-time attendee of a Pride event, I can say that we have come far from having just 30 to 50 participants during the first Pride march in Southeast Asia that took place in Quezon City 29 years ago.
Now we already have 110,000 members and allies during the Pride March, just in the event held in Quezon City. Such support is empowering to members of the community and helps them become even more committed to fighting for their rights. Even with Pride Month over, equality and fair treatment for the gay community should be maintained and discussions on the Sogie bill kept open. Passing this bill into law will let them feel safe, as well as entitled to the same rights that straight couples have upon marriage.
But the road ahead is fraught with challenges, mainly from religious groups and conservative individuals. Here is one instance when separation between church and state should be observed. They are indeed two different institutions. The Bible is the basis for matters dealing with the spiritual, while the law is about giving a better life for people, without discrimination as to their gender, sexuality, and expression. To delay the passage of the Sogie bill is to do injustice to Filipinos who deserve a better life.