Yesterday, the Philippines elected its first openly transgender member of Congress. The Washington Blade reported that Geraldine Roman, a transgender woman and member of the Liberal Party, was elected as the representative for Bataan Second Legislative District.
Roman’s victory is extremely exciting for the LGBTQ community. While the country has one of the highest rates of acceptance of LGBTQ people in Asia, transgender people are often stigmatized in the Philippines. Last May, HRC Global joined Filipino transgender model and activist Geena Rocero and the Association of Transgender People of the Philippines on a three-city speaking tour to increase awareness about transgender people and reduce stigma against them.
More than a dozen local governments and the Cavite province have non-discrimination laws or policies protecting LGBTQ people. LGBTQ activists are working in this overwhelmingly Catholic country to pass national level legislation to protect or advance the rights of LGBTQ people. Unfortunately, a non-discrimination bill that would protect LGBTQ people has languished in Congress for years.