As the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill makes its way through Senate, the University Student Government (USG), in cooperation with Babaylan of the University of the Philippines (UP), held “Yes to Equality,” a mobilization in support of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, last May 25 at the Cory Aquino Democratic Space.
The event was attended by LGBTQ+ advocates, as well as students from other universities in Metro Manila, some of whom were able to give testimonies regarding the current state of the community.
United for a cause
In an interview with The LaSallian, USG President Mikee De Vega shared her sentiments on the mobilization efforts. “My office has been part of a network of LGBT advocates, so it began before; I think it was in March, we convened with a group of Catholic [school] student councils,” she explained. In addressing the occurrence being held in the University, De Vega stated, “The target location was to be in Taft, [for] it to be accessible nga to nearby schools, like the University of the Philippines-Manila (UPM).”
UP organization Babaylan, was represented by their outgoing President, Vince Liban, in the event, who emphasized the importance of having organizations that support the members of the LGBTQ+. According to Liban, the idea of having an organization fight for gender equality has always been “rooted in the fight for human rights.” “The fight [for LGBTQ+ rights] is no different from fighting for human rights, to alleviate poverty, for the indigenous peoples, because these all concern marginalized communities,” he expressed.
Different forms of struggle
The recurring theme among all the talks was the struggle being faced by the LGBT community. This was emphasized in the speakers’ speeches and narrations, which cite such issues. “Ang pagpapahiya sa klase, pagtanggi sa applications, ang pagbabawal sa pag-express ng sarili through dress codes, at iba pa (The shaming in class, denial of applications, repression of self expression through dress codes, etc.) are some of the forms of discrimination,” enumerated Kana Takahashi of University of Santo Tomas (UST) Hiraya.
Mark Lawrence from PinoyFTM shared that the transmen community are experiencing “more discrimination.” He recalls his experiences when his relatives laughed at him and asked him questions about himself which made him feel offended after he was able to transition. “Uy nagpatop surgery ka na ba? Nagpabottom surgery ka na ba?”, he stated.
In support of the event, statements were given as well by the USG, and De La Salle-College of St. Benilde’s (DLS-CSB) Central Student Government (CSG), represented by De Vega, and Hansel Del Rosario, respectively.
Under SOGIE Bill’s protection
Despite the continuous efforts of various organizations in support of the SOGIE Bill, members of the LGBTQ+ community still experience discrimination–and it has yet to be addressed properly.
Roi Galfo, shared that senators use the rainbow, the color representing the LGBTQ+ community, during elections and comes off “as if they are one with the LGBTQ+ community.” “Sasabihin we are pro-LGBT community pero bakit di nila ipasa ang bill, they discriminate us with that,” she stressed.
Traditionally, the month of June is observed as the Pride Month, where the LGBTQ+ community is recognized for its efforts in changing society, and how it celebrates its members in events held throughout the commemoration.