Gays work harder to make it in Congress

By Desiree Caluza
Inquirer Northern Luzon
Philippine Daily Inquierer
June 29, 2009

BAGUIO CITY—The group Ang Ladlad said Sunday it was working to remove the obstacles to its party-list accreditation so that Filipino gays and lesbians could win representation in Congress in next year’s polls.

Lawyer Germaine Leonin, Ang Ladlad treasurer, said the Commission on Elections disqualified the group in 2007 on the grounds that it failed to prove it had a nationwide membership.

“This year, we are doing the groundwork [to satisfy the] regional representation requirement. So we have been going [around the] provinces to enlist support from gay and lesbian groups,” said Leonin, who attended the Gay Pride march here on Sunday.

She said Ang Ladlad members visited Cebu City, Cagayan de Oro City, General Santos City, Aklan and Zambales recently to organize chapters and strengthen their campaign for party-list accreditation.

She said the group would submit to the Comelec documents and other materials to prove they have members in provinces all over the country.

“(The Comelec) said we are not representing a marginalized sector. But we are representing 10 percent of the population,” Leonin said.

The Comelec had rejected the group’s application for accreditation, saying that “reports from our field offices reveal that it doesn’t exist in most regions of the country.”

Leonin said Ang Ladlad will push the Anti-Discrimination Bill that gives lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) equal rights and opportunities in employment as well as in schools, restaurants, hotels, entertainment centers and government offices.

On Sunday, about 100 gays and lesbians marched down Session Road in this mountain city wearing costumes and carrying placards denouncing discrimination and homophobia.

The march was organized by the Baguio Pride Network as part of international gay pride celebrations that commemorated the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. The riots were triggered by a police raid on a New York bar frequented by gays and lesbians.

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