Unity in Diversity: #HereTogether with LBTs, their Families, and Friends at the 2017 Metro Manila Pride March

GALANG Philippines and its partner lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men (LBT) people’s organizations from the urban poor sector, proudly marched the streets of Marikina City to resonate this years 23rd Metro Manila Pride March themed: #HereTogether. More than 100 LBT individuals from GALANG’s partner organizations together with their friends, families, and loved ones assembled with thousands of other marchers on June 24, 2017 at the Marikina City’s Plaza de los Alcaldes.
GALANG, as a feminist human rights organization, is one with this celebration of unity in diversity with its four (4) partner LBT people’s organizations, namely Lesbian Alliance Movement: Lakas ng Kababaihan Para sa Karapatan (LAM) from Barangay Pansol, Lesbians Organization Against Violence and InEquality (LOVE) from Barangay Bagbag, Lesbians for Rights (LFR) from Barangay Batasan Hills, and Lesbian Organization for Unity and Diversity (LOUD) from Barangay Loyola Heights.
The recent turn of events, both globally and locally, worsens situations that threaten the safety of LGBTs around the world. In Chechnya, Russia, anti-gay campaigns left more than 100 individuals rounded up, detained, and tortured for their sexuality. In Indonesia, anti-LGBT actions led two (2) young men caned for having sex, and ten (10) men arrested for allegedly attending a gay party. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte made headlines once more as he brazenly joked about rape during a speech for soldiers deployed in Mindanao. He reassured the soldiers of his full support even if they committed human rights violations under his newly declared Martial law in southern Philippines, including rape. Despite made in jest, his words display indifference to the plight of rape victims and further aggravates the culture of misogyny in the country. Recently, the experience of filmmaker and lesbian single parent Cha Roque and her partner, Ymi Castel, portrayed a vivid example of the prevailing misogyny. While in a bar, the couple were harassed by a rude man who persistently invaded their personal space, and punched them when the couple stood up against his advances. Even worse was when the attending police officer refused to use the term “girlfriend” in their sworn statement, merely for the reason that the two aren’t married. These are just a few of the forms of oppression against LGBTs.
This year’s Pride created more and wider safe spaces in Metro Manila, bringing more families, friends, and allies, here and together to march for love, for pride, and for equal rights. As more families and friends of GALANG’s partner LBT people’s organizations joined in this symbolic march, GALANG advocates for Pagkakaisa sa Pagkakaiba (Unity in Diversity) to remind everyone that despite individual differences, all are born equal and deserving of respect, and that this diversity should remain a strong, unifying force towards equality.
Despite the current atrocities and threats toward the safety of LGBTs and advocates around the world, GALANG continues to amplify its call for the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill — now the SOGIE Equality Bill, an instrument vital for the protection of people of diverse SOGIE against all forms of discrimination and violence. GALANG refuses to bow down and instead remains steadfast in its unwavering commitment to the empowerment of Filipino LBTs, and to its vision of a just and progressive society inclusive of LGBT rights.
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