Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queer and others (LGBTQ+) of Mindanao in southern Philippines held its second Pride march on 22 December in Cagayan de Oro City. It was organized by Mindanao Pride, a group of Mindanao LGBTQ+ and allies founded in 2017 by young activist Hamilcar Chanjueco Jr.
“Usa ka nasud nga adunay labing daghan nga populasyon sa Kristuhanon sa Asya ug ika-lima sa tibuuk kalibutan, ang Pilipinas giisip nga usa sa labing matugoton nga mga nasud sa kalibutan alang sa LGBTQIA+ ingon nga gipakita sa 2013 nga survey nga gihimo sa Pew Research Center. Bisan pa niining kamatuoran, adunay duha ka mga bahin nga nagpatin-aw sa gidak-on sa pagtugot sa nasud. Ang katilingban sa Pilipinas bukas kaayo ug pag-abiabi sa LGBTQIA+ apan sa pila ka mga kondisyon ug limitasyon (A country with the largest Christian population in Asia and fifth worldwide, the Philippines is considered one of the most tolerable countries in the world for LGBTQIA+ as reflected in the 2013 survey conducted by Pew Research Center. In spite of this fact, there are two sides to defining the extent of tolerance in the country. The Philippine society is very much open and welcoming to LGBTQIA+ but in certain conditions and limits),” a Mindanao Pride Facebook post explains. “Ang pagkahimong usa ka LGBTQIA+ usa ka adlaw-adlaw nga pakigbisog ug kini labi ka mahagit labi na kung nagpuyo ka sa kakabus ug armadong pagsukol nga mga lugar. Sa kinatibuk-an, sila kultura ug sosyal nga gitugot apan dili gidawat. Ang magkalainlain nga kagikan sa etniko ug mga kalainan sa kultura nakatampo sa mga piho nga mga hagit ug mga babag, lakip ang kabangis, paglapas sa katungod sa tawo, stigma ug diskriminasyon. Ang mga higpit nga stereotypes sa gender ug mga pamatasan sa gender naa sa moral nga panapton sa kultura nga nakaapekto sa kinabuhi sa mga nagpakilala sa ilang kaugalingon ingon LGBTQIA+. Sa ingon, ang pagdawat sa LGBTQIA+ community usa lamang ka konsepto, dili usa ka kamatuoran sa niining nasud (Being an LGBTQIA+ is a daily struggle and it becomes even more challenging especially if you live in poverty and armed-conflict areas. In general, they are culturally and socially tolerated but not accepted. Diverse ethnic background and cultural differences contribute to the specific challenges and barriers, including violence, human right violations, stigma and discrimination. Rigid gender stereotypes and gender norms are embedded in the moral fabric of the culture that affect the lives of those who identify themselves as LGBTQ+. Thus, acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community is only a concept, not a reality in this country).”
As many pride marches have become festive, celebrating the different genders, this one emphasized its roots and aspect of protest. The march, which gathered at the Rodelsa Circle, was held in silence with about 200 participants mostly dressed in black and carrying placards that announced the many issues the community faces and their demands and aspirations.
“Silence is the loudest way to protest, and through silence brings clarity and deeper understanding to the issues that we wish to put forward to the public,” Mindanao Pride said, adding that the government’s and society’s reactions to the issues are silence, apathy, exclusion and ignorance.
“While we celebrate our diversity, we condone the acts of discrimination, oppression and violence committed against us. We, the Mindanaoan LGBTs, will no longer tolerate our invisibility. We take a stand for human rights!” they further stated.
This year’s march’s theme was aptly “Tawhanong katungod sa tanang katawhan (Human rights for all people).” Among the issues raised by the march were the passage of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill; an anti-discrimination ordinance in Cagayan de Oro City; negative impacts of the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome on the community; and the violence and hatred experienced by the sector.
The march ended with discussions on the issues and participants sharing stories.
Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran (Spark! Philippines), a non-governmental organization focused on women’s rights and welfare and gender equality, supported the march and sent a message: “It was last year when Spark! supported Mindanao Pride’s first pride march which was also in partnership with the Embassy of the Netherlands in the Philippines, Office of Senator Risa Hontiveros, and the local government of Cagayan de Oro City. We are proud for what this organization has achieved in just a year and we cannot wait to unfold more engagements in 2020! This year’s march became more symbolic as it sought to highlight the issues through a silent and black protest where the marchers brought stories of discrimination, abuse, and other types of violence being experienced by the members of the LGBTQ+ community. The approach is similar to Spark!’s ongoing Humanizing SOGIE Campaign, an initiative supported by the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines, which seeks to educate the public on the challenges of having a society that promotes indifference towards individuals with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Thus, both the campaign and the march call for the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill into law to ensure the rights and welfare of anyone regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.”