Philippines: The LGBT community the northern Philippine city of Baguio made use of their annual Pride Parade to protest the a mandatory HIV testing proposal being discussed by the country’s Department of Health.
During the eight Baguio Pride Parade that took place June 22, more than 50 activists and gay rights supporters wearing colorful costumes carried placards denouncing the proposed mandatory HIV testing, according to newsinfo.inquirer.net.
The proposed testing was made because of fears that AIDS in the Philippines has risen further than expected, said Myke Sotelo, a minister of the Metropolitan Community Church of Metro Baguio.
Earlier, at a May 30 candle-lighting memorial for those who succumbed to AIDS, city health office’s social hygiene clinic reported that 63 cases from Baguio have been recorded by the HIV-AIDS Registry from 1992 to 2014. Of these, five of were detected when patients volunteered to donate blood.
Dr. Celia Brillantes, chief of the social hygiene clinic, said the five patients had no inkling they carried the disease.
According to Brillantes, 18 of the 63 persons with HIV/AIDS have so far died from the disease. The 47 men and 16 women infected were between 17 and 48 years old, she said adding that 26 were sexually active gay men while 19 were overseas workers.
Sotelo said the proposal to identify vulnerable sectors such as the LGBT community arose because of such statistics but cautioned that any “strong-arm policy” may once more force people underground.
The Baguio Pride Parade surprised Sunday churchgoers when participants marched from near the Baguio cathedral.
The parade has long been considered controversial because various Christians denominations have condemned the LGBT community for staging church-led “unions” in 2011.
The city’s LGBT community has also asked the city government to enact an antidiscrimination ordinance, something which authorities have not yet discussed.
However, two Baguio councilors joined the march and have promised to revive the measure.