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People Power: hundreds hit Philippines’ streets to fight for LGBTI equality

Written by gaytourism

Some of the many protestors at the SOGIE Equality Bill rally in Quezon City. | Photo: Twitter/@tomasinoweb

Hundreds of people turned up to a rally in the Philippines to call for a LGBTI rights bill to become law.

Protestors congregated at the People Power Monument in Quezon City to encourage national senators to vote in favor of the SOGIE Equality Bill.

The SOGIE Equality Bill would make it illegal to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity expression (SOGIE).

The People Power Monument pays tribute to the country’s 1986 People Power revolution. It was a series of massive demonstrations to protest regime violence and electoral fraud.

‘[We chose] the People Power Monument, because this is a struggle of everyone LGBT and non LGBT,’ one of the rally organizers, Tacing Marasigan told Gay Star News.

‘People power includes the the marginalized sectors such as the LGBT.’

The Lagablab Network of around 25 LGBTI organizations put Saturday’s (March 17) rally together.

Some of the discriminatory acts which would become illegal under the SOGIE Equality Act include; denial of access to public services, hiring and dismissal in the workplace, access to education or expulsion of students, harassment by law enforcement and outing someone without consent.

Punishment for breaking the law would include a fine of between P100,000 to P500,000 (US$1958 to US$9793) or imprisonment between one and six years.

People Power

Rally organizers said they organized the event to raise awareness of how important the bill is to the LGBTI community.

‘The main objective was to rally people – LGBTI people and their allies – to pressure the Senate to act on the bill,’ said Tacing Marasigan.

‘It was also to show our collective voice and call out senators, institutions and groups who are delaying the passage of the SOGIE equality bill.’

Organizers also wanted the rally to make people aware about the constant delays the bill faces in the Senate.

‘We want the community to engage the decision makers with their stories of discrimination and violence,’ Marasigan said.

‘The non passage would only lead to more violence, discrimination, sexism, and lost opportunities for everyone especially for LGBT people.’

Uphill battle

Geraldine Roman, the Philippines first trans congress woman, introduced the bill into Congress last year. The bill received a unanimous 197-0 vote in favor of passing the anti-discrimination measures.

But now the bill faces an uphill battle in the Senate before it can become official law.

Political observers believe the bill would struggle to get the numbers in the Senate. But observers have also accused some senators including former boxer, Manny Paquiao of engaging in delaying tactics to prevent a vote on the bill.

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