A for effort, I guess?
As well-meaning as the Land Transportation Office (LTO) wanted to be, including the LGBTQ+ community in the priority lane might not be the best idea—and this is coming from someone who is queer.
An image from an LTO branch circulated on social media in the middle of April, catching the attention of netizens with its new list of categories under the priority lane. Aside from the usual senior citizens, pregnant women, and PWD, one branch of the government office would also put people in the LGBTQ+ community first.
At first glance, this effort seems harmless—even a show of allyship and inclusivity by the government office—but as others have pointed out, there are more layers to it.
For starters, lumping LGBTQ+ individuals with those physically impaired or incapacitated sends a harmful and confusing message. For so long, people in the queer community have been fighting against the wrong message that being gay is a “disease” or an illness. Categorizing them with people who are incapacitated might bring this kind of thinking back. Studies from all over the world have debunked and rejected that homosexuality is not a disease.
LGBTQ+ organization Bahaghari spoke up on the issue, reiterating that being gay is not an incapacity.
“We want to make it clear: being LGBTQ+ in no way impairs or affects a person’s physical capacity to take part in social and governmental functions. Hindi po sakit o kapansanan ang pagiging LGBTQ+,” Bahaghari Chairperson Reyna Valmores said.
“We of course recognize that this may be well-meaning. However, this does not erase the fact that the implication of LTO’s LGBTQ+ priority lane is dangerous. To this day, many people including lawmakers cling to the erroneous notion that being LGBTQ+ is a disorder,” she said.
Others who also identify as LGBTQ+ do not agree with the special privilege that the LTO branch seems to be offering.
“Makes no sense. Equality along naman nag gusto ng LGBTQ, hindi privilege or entitlement,” one netizen wrote.
“This is not what we wanted,” another commented.
Some have also noted how doing this might stir hate and stigma toward the queer community, especially when cis heterosexuals see the supposed special treatment.
People who identify as LGBTQ+ have never asked for special privileges like this, but they do want equality. The fight for the SOGIE Equality Bill, which will protect queer individuals against discrimination, still continues as well as calls to institutionalize same-sex marriage. Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals still also fight for legal gender recognition.
Currently, the SOGIE bill was refiled by Sen. Risa Hontiveros in September 2022 in the 19th Congress and it remains at the Senate committee level.