Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach spoke up about the discrimination against the LGBT community on May 17 in observance of International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
“There is still a lot of discrimination in our society today. It is still important that we come together as a community to fight for our friends and loved ones,” said Wurtzbach on her Instagram stories.
Wurtzbach also called for the need for safe and inclusive schools for LGBTI learners.
“Education is the strongest way to reduce stigma around the LGBT community. In the Philippines, where most people are conservative, schools influence how the people perceive the LGBT community” the Filipino-German beauty queen said.
“I believe that trained guidance counselors can help make a positive impact in the school environment,” she added.
On January 12, 2019, the House of Representatives Committee on Women and Gender Equality endorsed the enactment of a bill declaring May 17 as “National Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia”. Homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia refer to prejudice or hatred of homosexuals, bisexuals, and transsexuals and/or transgenders.
May 17 is the same the day when the World Health Organization (WHO) eliminated homosexuality from its roster of mental disorders in 1990.
In Asia, the Philippines is considered as one of the most gay-friendly nations.
A 2013 survey by Pew Research Center showed that the Philippines is among the countries most accepting of homosexuality.
The Philippines has also adapted to the understanding of the wider spectrum of sexual identities with the expanded LGBTQI, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), including queer and intersex.
The Forum for Family Planning and Development (The Forum), the advocacy organization that works in communities to advance reproductive and sexual rights, said the accepting attitude of Filipinos is a sign of the maturing of society.
“If we continue to hold our LGBT family members, friends and colleagues and even LGBT strangers equal with everyone else, then we are a tolerant society that chooses to move towards one that is respectful of human diversity,” said Chi Laigo Vallido, director for programs and advocacy of The Forum.