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#HereTogether: Thousands march for LGBTQ+ community

PRIDE MARCH. Thousands attend the 2017 Metro Manila Pride march in Marikina City on Saturday, June 24. Photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – There were rainbow flags all over Plaza de los Alcaldes in Marikina City Saturday, June 24, as members and supporters of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) community walked hand-in-hand to call for equality and inclusion in the country’s national agenda.

Organizers estimated around 5,000 people, mostly in creative rainbow outfits, marched along the streets of the city, from the Plaza going around the Marikina Sports Center and Marikina Polytechnic College.

Fifteen colorful floats from the private sector and partner groups were part of the march.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, a known champion of the community, delivered the keynote speech at the Pride march. "The issues we fought decades ago are still being fought for today," she said.

"The President’s macho politics have failed the LGBT community," Hontiveros added. (READ: Duterte, the ‘benevolent sexist’?)

Loreen Ordono and Nicky Castillo, organizers of the event, said that they wanted "members, non-members, and allies of the LGBTQ community to unite in fighting for equal rights and resolving discrimination against the gay community."

Th 23rd Metro Manila Pride revolves around the theme "Here Together," a call for the community, its allies, friends, family, and even strangers, to come together in a safe space to celebrate love, rights, and Pride. (READ: Why Gay Pride celebrations still exist)

Previous years’ themes were Come Out for Love (2014), Fight For Love (2015), and Let Love In (2016).

Struggles

The country may be seen as "gay-friendly" but acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community has a long way to go. (READ: The long road to an LGBT anti-discrimination law)

Research from the Trans Murder Monitoring project found that the Philippines is part of the top 10 countries with the most reported killings of trans- and gender-diverse people at 40 since 2008. Brazil tops the list at 845.

In a separate survey conducted by the organizers of the Pride March, respondents raise lack of acceptance and violence at home; discrimination in the workplace; and bullying in schools as the 3 main issues that the community face.

Billy Santo of the Project Red Ribbon, an organization that supports anti-stigma on HIV/AIDS especially on the members of the LGBTQ+ community, calls to end discrimination.

“The fact of acceptance is very hard in the (LGBTQ+) community especially here in the Philippines, for a homosexual men or women, or trans, because discrimination still exists,” said Santo.

More than two decades have passed before an anti-discrimination bill was debated in Congress. In March, the House of Representatives kicked off the hearing on House Bill No. 4982 or the Sexual Orientation Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Equality Act. – Rappler.com

Clyde Jayvy Villanueva is a Rappler intern