AMSTERDAM —The Pride Movement in Asia has been growing over the years and 2019 has been so far a particularly historic year for LGBTQ history. This year, Taiwan passed the first marriage equality act. It also marks the 25th anniversary of Asia's first Pride march, which took place in Manila as a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
The Filipino LGBT presence in Europe has also been very active. For the first time in history, a Filipino boat will participate in the annual Amsterdam Pride Parade. Thousands of people from all over the world are expected to join the festivities on August 3. The “Balangay” and Pride House Tokyo’s boat will be the first Asian boats in the canal event.
During a panel discussion on LGBTQ Rights and Development in Asia on July 30, Filipino LGBT Europe chairman Chris Sta. Brigida said the organization had become a support group for Filipino LGBTs living in Europe.
One of its projects is the “Out and Proud” media campaign which features stories of Filipino stories of overcoming their struggles with their gender identities.
“We believe that if you accept yourself, people around you will start to understand what is important for you and that change always starts within you. Our organization helps Filipino LGBTs living in Europe to feel secure and safe from any kind of prejudice or discrimination,” Sta. Brigida said.
Movies, music and photos featuring LGBT rights in Asia were also a main point of discussion during the event.
“I think publicity is very important, particularly film festivals, and you create a representation. Pride is one thing, lasting one week or a month, but films and literature about Asian queers last even longer," He Xiaopei, a Chinese filmmaker said.
The fight continues
While small wins should indeed be celebrated and affirmed, the bigger battle for LGBT rights is still far from successful.
Asian countries have been much more conservative and limited in Pride rights compared to other areas of the world. Many countries lack LGBTQ anti-discrimination laws and provisions for same-sex marriage or change of legal gender.
Take Philippines for example. The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill, which aims to protect the LGBT community against sex- and gender-based discrimination is still pending in Congress since it was first filed in 2000.
The bill was refiled in 18th Congress last July 3, 2019.
Marlon Lacsamana, head of the group's Marriage Equality Committee, highlighted the need for an open discussion on gay rights in workplaces and even peasant cooperatives in the Philippines.
“We are reaching out to families - from trade unions and even peasant cooperatives. In some areas in the Philippines, there’s a misconception amongst farmers that their LGBT children might make their land barren. We are trying to educate them that their land will not be made barren by their children. For trade unions, we want to bring out the positions of the LGBT in addressing discrimination and wage gap," Lacsamana explained.
In the Philippines, where the influence of the Catholic Church has been very strong, legislation of same-sex marriage has been forestalled. For Filipinos living with same-sex European partners, this means that their marriages outside the Philippines are not recognized. Marriage equality and legal recognition are also one of the main issues that the Filipino LGBT Europe wants to bring forward through campaigning on social media campaigns and organizing forums. —NB, GMA News