Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gays turn Philippine flower festival into protest vs. killings, discrimination

QUEZON CITY, Philippine (Mindanao Examiner / May 26, 2011) Hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists and their allies are set to mark the traditional Flores de Mayo parade in the Philippines with serious calls for justice and equality for their sector.

Dubbed the "Kagandahan, Kalusugan at Karapatan Florez De Mayo Pride 2011," the summer festival held in honor of the season's flowers will be unveiled on Sunday. This year's event will be hosted by the village of Pinyahan in Quezon City, regarded as the most gay-friendly metropolis in this conservative Catholic nation.

"During this Florez de Mayo, we are pressing the government to act decisively to stop the extrajudicial killings of LGBTs and pass the Anti-Discrimination Act so the country's queers can enjoy life of equality without fear of violence and death," said Rev. Ceejay Agbayani, the head pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church and the event main organizer.

The militant advocates of ProGay Philippines are joining the FlorEZ de Mayo to push for the Anti-Discrimination Act of 2010 or House Bill 1483, a proposal filed in Congress by Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino with the aim of banning discriminatory acts against LGBT residents in the workplace, schools and government offices.

Also causing grave concern among human rights workers is the spate of unexplained cruel deaths of largely transgender people in the past decade.

The Hate Crimes Watch, an alliance of activists monitoring hate-motivated murders of LGBT in the country, revealed that ten LGBTs died in hatred-linked circumstances this early half of the year, compared to 14 reports for the entire 2010.

Gay rights activists have suddenly figured in the debate when Dionisia, the famous mother of anti-RH advocate and boxing champion Rep. Manny Pacquiao, criticized transgenders for consuming oral contraceptives.

Many of the parade participants promise to come in provocatively inspired evening gowns and bamboo arches that blend Filipiniana fashion with political calls for gay rights and reproductive health advocacy.

The Roman Catholic church leadership has repeatedly expressed disapproval of traditional parades such as the Santacruzan and Sagala being redesigned by local communities to highlight homosexuals and transgenders as the star attractions.

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