Members of the LGBTQ community in Iloilo City hold a rare protest rally to denounce an anti-gay remark by a radio blocktimer and blogger (Photo by Nestor P. Burgos Jr./INQUIRER VISAYAS)
ILOILO CITY, Philippines —In a first for this city, members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community on Friday evening held a protest rally to denounce an anti-gay comment of a radio blocktimer and blogger.
More than 100 members of the LGBTQ community led by the Iloilo Pride Council and LGBTQ rights advocates gathered at the Sunburst Park to condemn the controversial statement made by former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel “Boy” Mejorada.
Mejorada last week spoke in a live interview over dyFM Bombo Radyo regarding a complaint he filed for alleged unexplained wealth against Ruel Von Superio, an executive assistant of Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor.
Superio, who has openly admitted being gay, has repeatedly denied Mejorada’s allegation.
In the interview, Mejorada commented on Superio’s being gay as a possible reason for his alleged corruption.
“…Wala man ko gapakanubo sa mga kautoran naton nga mga agi pero mas vulnerable ni sila sa corruption kay siempre may mga bisyo nga ginamentinar. (I don’t belittle gay brothers but they are more vulnerable to corruption because they have vices to maintain). They have their boyfriend to keep happy),” Mejorada said near the end of the interview.
His comments drew widespread condemnation on social media especially from the LGBTQ community who accused him of stereotyping gays.
Mejorada has since apologized for his controversial remarks.
He said it was not his intention to “disparage” members of the LGBT community and he has nothing against them. But he admitted that he had overstepped in his statement.
“My statement came at the end of the interview and I accept the responsibility,” he told the INQUIRER.
Mejorada hosts blocktime programs in two radio stations and his commentaries are mostly against Defensor and the official’s son and namesake Iloilo Rep. Arthur Defensor Jr. He has also filed graft complaints against the governor.
The younger Defensor is running for governor in the May 13 elections against Iloilo Rep. Ferjenel Biron.
While Biron has not acknowledged employing Mejorada, his chief of staff Lemuel Fernandez immediately issued a statement disowning Mejorada’s statement after some of the criticisms also targeted the legislator.
“Dok Ferj Biron and our Biron Campaign disown any statements that tend to discredit or discriminate members of the LGBTQ community. On the contrary, we condemn such statements. We will never discriminate anyone by reason of race, color, religion, creed and gender,” Fernandez said.
Mejorada’s apology failed to placate the LGBTQ community who said his comments had no place in Iloilo City which has an existing anti-discrimination ordinance.
The protesters brought placards and rainbow flags and banners as speakers took turns denouncing Mejorada’s statement calling it discriminatory and unfair to all gays and members of the LGBTQ.
“We come from all sectors and many of us are highly talented and accomplished,” said Harry Canilao of the Rainbow Guardians, one of several groups that joined the protest.
They also read poems and performed dances affirming their sexual orientation.
“We diligently work and pay our taxes and we are not corrupt,” said Iris Inoceto of Bahaghari-Iloilo.
At the culmination of the program, the protesters burned an effigy of a pig symbolizing discrimination against members of their community.
In a unity statement read by architect and international interior designer Edgar Suelo, the Iloilo Pride Council said Mejorada’s “disparaging” remarks “is symptomatic (of) underlying biases and prejudices found in our culture and society.”
“We are born free (and) given equality and dignity…LGBT rights are human rights…,” Suelo said. /muf
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