By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, June 30, 2023; Philippine News Agency

MANILA – Advocacy group LGBT Pilipinas has called on President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. to form a presidential advisory body or commission that will look into the affairs of the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and more) community.

The LGBT Pilipinas pitched the proposal, with a hope that it would be endorsed by First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos who witnessed the oath-taking of its new set of officers led by its national president, Director Dindi Tan.

Araneta-Marcos expressed confidence that her husband would heed the LGBT Pilipinas’ request as a “way of giving back” to the LGBTQIA+ members who  supported his presidential bid in the May 9, 2022 national elections.

“Knowing my husband, I’m sure he will grant the wish because he knows that you all campaigned for him and he wouldn’t be there without you guys,” she said, adding that the proposal would make them “stronger than ever.”

The proposal was made to ensure the LGBTQIA+ community’s visibility and representation in the bureaucracy.

The President and the First Lady hosted a gathering with LGBT Pilipinas members at Malacañan Palace in Manila on Thursday, in line with the celebration of Pride Month in June.

In his speech, Marcos assured the LGBTQIA+ community of his administration’s commitment to give them equal treatment and uphold gender equality.

“No questions asked, that’s it. We should all be treated the same. And that’s what we are continuing to try to do,” Marcos said.

“‘Yung pagkatao ang tinitignan natin, hindi kung anu-ano pa (We are looking at the character, nothing else). That’s the principle that we follow with this administration and with this governance,” he added.

Marcos also stressed that his wife is “even better briefed” on the legal issues affecting the LGBTQIA+ community.

The proposed national anti-discrimination law is still being deliberated in Congress.

Pending the bill’s passage, LGBT Pilipinas made a commitment to help local government units pass their respective ordinances on anti-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and sexual characteristics.

A similar ordinance has already been passed by the local governments of Cebu, Bacolod and Davao cities.

In 2022, the United Nations Human Rights Council urged the Philippines to pass a gender equality bill and other similar measures protecting the LGBTQIA+ community.

Established in June 2016 and registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, LGBT Pilipinas serves as a  national alliance of LGBTQIA+ organizations, networks and allied groups across the country.

LGBT Pilipinas has been working side by side with the government to remove the barriers that hold people back with regard to sexual orientation and gender identity.

The organization has grassroots following in 76 out of 81 provinces in the country with more than 120,000-strong membership in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. (PNA)