The absence of pro-LGBT agenda among political bets “strip LGBTs of their basic human rights” and make them “second-class or low-level constituents.”

By Mart D. Sambalud
Contributor
Davao Today

STO. TOMAS, Davao del Norte – The Progressive Organization of Gays of Sto. Tomas (PROGAST) has urged political bets here to include LGBT ((Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders) in the latter’s platform of government.

Endrick Dee, Municipal Coordinator of PROGAST, told Davao Today that “it’s high time for local politicians to include LGBT in their agenda because LGBTs have pressing issues and concerns that should be addressed with respect to their civil, social, economic and political rights.”

Dee cited that the LGBTs are hounded with lack of employment opportunities, discrimination, and abuse.

“If they can address the issues of women, IPs and children, why can’t they address the issues of LGBT?” Dee asked.

The absence of pro-LGBT agenda among political bets “strip LGBTs of their basic human rights” and make them “second-class or low-level constituents.”

Entertainers

Crisanto Aritunza, 24, a resident of Brgy. Tibal-og, said that most of the gays like him are hired as dance performers during campaign sorties of local politicians.

“Paid for a cheap fee of Php 130, with free snacks and costumes were all I have at the end of every performance,” Aritunza said.

He said that though it is a very exhausting work, he had no choice but to grab it make a living.

Aritunza stressed that politicians must provide them long-term solutions that will make them more productive in the community. Citing that majority of them are jobless, the government should sponsor skills and livelihood trainings to improve their economic conditions.

He added that “none of the politicians to whom I campaigned, voted and gave live dance entertainment during campaign rallies in the last for three elections have changed our lives.”

“It’s frustrating to know that after they got elected, we were set aside. We felt like their slave-entertainers, ornaments that make them look like true public servants,” Aritunza lamented.

Limited Legal Rights

For Mark Lui Bimbo, a gay Overseas Filipino Worker, “the passage of a municipal ordinance that prohibits discrimination to LGBT must be part of the politicians’ agenda.”

“We have limited legal rights,” Bimbo stressed.

In 2011, there was a reported case of abuse against a gay resident, but no legal action was taken due to lack of funds and support group, Bimbo told Davao Today.

Gay business entrepreneurs engaged in beauty services have also appealed to political bets that they be given business incentives and privileges since they earn less and paid less.

“It is very hard for us to raise the price of our services since beauty parlours are mushrooming everywhere,” said Rey Deison, a beauty parlor owner.

Deison also complained of high annual business taxes.

For Dee of PROGAST, “we are taxpayers, some of us business entrepreneurs engaged in giving beauty services, thus we deserve to have an equal treatment and footing before the law.”

PROGAST was organized in Sto. Tomas town in 2010.  (Mart D. Sambalud/davaotoday.com)

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