Despite being a Christian-dominated country where about 85% of the population are Catholic, the Philippines earned the ranking as one of the few gay-friendly countries in the world as revealed by Pew Research Center survey in 2013, which yielded 73% of the 804 Filipino respondents were affirmative on the statements "homosexuality should be accepted by the society," 26% believed otherwise, and 1% refused to answer.
The same study was conducted in 2019 and surprisingly it had the same acceptance rate of 73% however, more people abstained or refused to answer at 3% and 24% of the respondents said that they do not accept homosexuality.
But this is not the actual case as according to the data from the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch, around 164 cases of LGBT murder related were recorded from 1996 to June 2012.
Aside from this, the lack of education towards the LGBTQIA+ community perpetuates the stereotype and discrimination experienced by them which is evident when Miel Pangilinan, a 17-year-old daughter of the Filipino Megastar Sharon Cuneta and Senator Kiko Pangilinan, received hateful comments after she comes out as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and identified herself as a 'QUEER'. "This June, I am celebrating my first pride month as openly and publicly queer," she said in an Instagram Post
Three days after she posted it, Miel Pangilinan clarified in her Instagram Stories that she is not a lesbian where she reposted the headline from a website that reads "Anak ni Megastar na si Miel Pangilinan nag-out as lesbiyana ngayong Pride Month." She criticized the website for assuming incorrectly that she was a lesbian.
"It's pride month. If you're going to make a post reporting about a person's whole identity, I should hope that you get it right. please. There are more identities than lesbian and gay lol," she said in her Instagram Stories.
Queer is a phrase we frequently hear as self-identification, and occasionally we confuse it with other terms that fall under the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression (SOGIE) category. But how far are we from totally emancipating ourselves from the traditional standards of sexuality that perpetuate violence and hate crimes among people from marginalized communities?
According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh (UPMC CHP) on the basic definitions of SOGIE, the term queer has been categorized under Sexual Orientation which is "an umbrella term that embraces a matrix of sexual preferences, expressions, and habits that are not of the heterosexual, heteronormative, or gender-binary majority."
In layman's terms, the word 'queer' basically means that you are not straight and you refused to conform to the Society's appropriate feminine and masculine expectations or standards as a heterosexual and heteroromantic beings.
Historically, the word 'queer' has negative implications which the LGBTQIA Resource Center emphasized that people back then used the term as a damaging or hurtful word against those whose sexuality or gender expression did not conform to their standards and expectations. However, in the 1980s, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly those in academia and politics, began to reclaim the term in opposition to those who had previously used it as a pejorative slur.
The Unitarian Universalist Association considered 'queer' as a multi-faceted word that is used in different ways and can mean different things. To sum it up, queer can be an attraction to people of many genders, individuals who do not conform to traditional or cultural norms on gender and sexuality, and lastly, queer can be a general term referring to all non-heterosexual people. Thus, even if you are a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, you may still identify yourself as queer.
The vocabulary surrounding gender and sexuality has undergone a remarkable shift in the past few years. New terminologies have been born; other words have redefined their meaning and usage but what has not changed are the struggles of these people who are continuously harassed, abused, bullied, and worse, murdered because they choose to express who they truly are.
We can not move forward and progress as a society if we continue to disintegrate these people from our agenda. We perpetuate and contribute to their struggles if we do not consider queer and other sexual orientations and identities as a valid label; if we persist with wrong assumptions based on the perceptions of a person's gender or who they associate with; and if we refuse to learn more about them and resist to unlearn inhumane and insensitive remarks. With higher concern for fundamental rights, it is the right time that we create a more diverse yet inclusive society for them.