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How Does Dumaguete Treat it’s LGBTQ Community?

It’s a sad condemnation of our evolution when in a time of great advances in technology and communication, and our ability to send rockets millions of miles out into space to arrive with absolute precision at its destination, we are still limited as a species by being so intolerant about accepting all of us as we are, rather than who others want us to be. This blog should not be necessary, but sadly it is. The objective here is to unequivocally confirm to all good people involved in nontraditional relationships, that they will be most welcome and appreciated here in Dumaguete.

Aspects of social attitudes in the Philippines are understandably confusing for foreigners. It’s known to be a staunchly Catholic country. Its politicians routinely kneel and kiss the ring of the Pope’s representatives. Homosexuality, bi-sexuality, lesbian and transgender relationships are theoretically frowned on in this society. Interestingly, unlike in other countries, there have never been laws that criminalize nontraditional, sexual behavior.

Please note that it’s awkward for this heterosexual male to have to make statements confirming acceptance of same-sex unions and the LGBTQ community in general, rather than living with the assumption sexual preference is a condition to which people of all sexual orientations are entitled as a fundamental human right. Even the offensive implication of the term Queer, is offensive to me. Now that I’ve hopefully clarified my position, let’s move on to discussing practical aspects for same-sex couples living in Dumaguete and in the Philippines.

While the Catholic, and to a lesser extent, Christian churches have a strong hold on the politicians, therefore laws that are legislated, there’s also an inherent and probably subconscious rationale at work for Filipinos that makes them sympathetic to non-traditional sexual unions. Bear in mind, prior to the arrival of the Spanish and their destruction of traditional culture, gender fluid babaylans were revered as spiritual icons.

A survey done by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center in 2013 confirmed the Philippines as the country in Asia most favorable to gays. It confirmed 73% of adult Filipinos believed that “society should accept homosexuality.” That’s certainly an interesting statistic in a country which is 80% Catholic. It suggests a contradiction in values. Perhaps part of the reason for their favorable views is because almost every Filipino family have one or more ladyboy, or homosexual, in their extended family. They love them unquestionably as, of course, they should. It’s only when Filipinos become heavily involved in dogmatic religion and the religion controls their lives, that intolerance can be seen. Isn’t that tragic? It’s redundant to say children are born with love and have no concept of hatred. It must be taught to them. And so, churches deny the concept of love and instead indoctrinate children with contempt for lifestyles which threaten their control of society.

It’s encouraging to see bills being introduced recently at a federal level to create laws recognizing certain rights for same-sex couples. The proposals include end of life decisions, property rights, and civil unions that recognize their marriages.

Some Christian churches perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, but they are not legally recognized. Same-sex marriage laws are unlikely to be enacted in the near term because the Catholic church will not allow it. Regardless, it’s measurable progress to see the subject being debated on the Senate floor. That would never have happened a few years ago, so it augers well for the future.

It’s accurate to say that if a same-sex couple is considering moving to Asia, or elsewhere, to retire, the Philippines, and Dumaguete in particular, is the ideal place for the many reasons already discussed. But why would Dumaguete be the perfect retirement destination for same-sex couples?

There is a gay pride celebration each year in June. In addition, there are gay-themed events throughout the year when the entire Dumaguete community is involved. Many churches and organizations here welcome everybody. Dumaguete is a place where people from all sexual orientations are welcome and are safe to live openly as the good people they are.

Dumaguete was one of the first cities in the Philippines to enact the SOGIE law. (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression) equality law. It’s designed to protect gays, lesbian, and the LGBTQ communities against discrimination.

Silliman University has a student organization called ISPEC. In 2019 they were awarded an international grant to have authors in Dumaguete create children’s books sympathetic to the LGBTQ community.

For these, and other compelling reasons already discussed, you will hopefully realize you will be most welcome in this special city that you will hopefully soon call your home.

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