The LGBTQ group in the city and province celebrated the month of June as “International Pride Month”, calling on residents to help advocate for respect to the members of their community.
Rica Ponce de Leon Belleza, president of Balangaw, a local organization of LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer), said their “advocacy for respect” remains among the top priorities as many of them continue to suffer from violence.
He cited the case of three “lesbians” who were hit by a man last week of May in Barangay San Miguel.
“So far, ang issue the usual pa rin, discrimination. Tulad na lang bang nangyari noong nakaraan sa mga lesbian,” she said.
However, Belleza said they have also observed discrimination in the city and province is not as “intense” as those happening in other places. Discrimination has started to decline, particularly in workplaces.
She said that workplaces have welcomed the members of the LGBT community in job hiring.
“Actually na-lessen na like for job hiring marami na mga LGBT na-hire sa different positions. Hindi lang sa call centers pati na rin sa hanay nang police, military, and executive position,” she said.
“Dati kasi we see LGBT members sa salon, parlors now kahit freelancer iba, mas malalaki kita nila doing business in different field of interest,” Belleza said.
Due to the pandemic crisis, Balangaw was not able to celebrate the Pride Month as colorful as it wanted it to be.
He said this is to also obey the government’s guidance on prohibiting mass gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that they lack the budget to make it happen.
“Wala talaga kaming celebration ngayon due to lack of budget and at the same time dahil sa pandemic na rin. But we see to it that the communication of each LGBT members still strong,” she said.
But even without the usual colorful parade, the group became active in extending relief efforts to the community during the implemented quarantine controls.
The group has distributed around 700 food packs to affected members of the community in different barangays like areas of Bagong Silang, Liwanag, Bagong Sikat, Bancao Bancao, Irawan, Sicsican, San Manuel, San Jose, San Pedro, San Miguel, Sta. Monica, Mandaragat, Mangingisda.
The group also extended relief efforts to lesbian community and senior citizens of LGBT. They also provided supports to affected residents of the fire incident in Brgy. Bagong Silang.
“Happy Pride Month sa inyong lahat. I hope and pray na maayos ang lahat ng members natin at lumalaban sa hamon ng buhay. Huwag lang tayong mawalan ng pag-asa, matatapos din itong pandemic, tiwala lang. Hangad ko ang kaayusan ng lahat,” she said.