By Rjhay E. Laurea
MANILA — The Philippine Financial and Inter-Industry Pride (PFIP) hailed Mayor Joy Belmonte as one of the BAHAGHARI Champions during the first Philippine BAHAGHARI Awards Night recently.
In recognition of her leadership and advocacies to promote equal rights in Quezon City, the PFIP awarded the BAHAGHARI Champion to Belmonte who was among “exceptional individuals and organizations that have championed SOGIE equality and human rights in the different sectors of our community” in celebration of their 9th anniversary.
Along with Mayor Belmonte, the Bottling Investments Group Global Chief People Officer of The Coca-Cola Company Drew Fernandez and The Embassy of The Netherlands to the Philippines were also named as BAHAGHARI Champions.
“I am really grateful to the PFIP for recognizing the city government’s efforts to uphold the rights of the members of the LGBTQIA+ community. I assure you that Quezon City will be the bastion of democracy where everyone can live their truth without fear of discrimination or stigma, where everyone is embraced and loved with uniformity, and where acceptance is the norm,” Mayor Joy Belmonte said.
In her speech, Mayor Belmonte laid down the city’s efforts to promote gender equality and end all forms of gender-based abuses, discrimination, and stigma in the workplace, and communities.
In 2014, then Vice Mayor Belmonte and the 19th Quezon City Council passed into ordinance the QC Gender Fair Ordinance which eventually led to the inclusion of the Safe Cities Program in the amended Gender and Development Code of 2016.
The city is also working further to address several issues of the community in the workplace, such as discrimination in hiring and company policy for employees to be called by their preferred name, and referred to by the pronouns of their choice. The institutionalization of a mechanism for the workplace to create a committee that investigates all forms of gender-based discrimination, violence, and harassment should also include LGBTQIA+, apart from women is also being pushed.
The city’s Emergency Employment Program has also implemented a Promotion of Inclusiveness and Diversity measure that does not discriminate when enlisting women, members of the LGBTQIA+ Community, People with Disabilities, and Senior Citizens, in providing employment opportunities.
LGBTQIA+ members, especially those who have experienced violence and abuse are also provided with various services from counseling to legal support through our Bahay Kanlungan. Eight sundown clinics were also able to serve over 20,000 individuals from January to August 2022, which is also part of the city’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In 2019, the Zero at 2030 campaign to end HIV/AIDS was launched.
This has brought the city the Circle of Excellence Award from the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care (IAPAC) and the Fast-Track Cities Institute (FTCI) during the Fast-Track Cities 2022 conference in Sevilla, Spain.
In June, over 25,000 LGBTQIA+ members and allies gathered for the “Alab for Love” Pride Event in Quezon Memorial Circle. Every year, a commitment ceremony for LGBTQIA+ couples and those who are in a diverse relationship is also conducted.
“Quezon City will become a city where everyone feels that the government is on their side, where everyone is given choices and are respected despite their choices; where no one feels left out; no one feels left behind. Ano man ang iyong kakayahan, ano man ang iyong katangian, ano man ang tinitibok ng iyong puso. Tanggap ka ng Quezon City. Yes, I am proud to declare that the Quezon City of 2022 is an LGBTQIA+ friendly city,” the mayor added. (ai/mtvn)