Many in and out of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) community are hailing the election of a transgender student as the first chairperson of the university student council (USC) at the Philippine university campus as a milestone.
On Thursday night, with all the ballots cast, Heart Diño bested her competition and was elected chair at the University of the Philippines, Diliman in Quezon City.
The chairman of the national Ang Ladlad (“coming out”) party, Danton Remoto, praised the election and the constituency calling it an “historic moment” saying the victory, “opens doors for the LGBT community into the political sphere.”
UP Babaylan, the largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender organization in the university, said in a statement as reported by ABS-CBN news, "Transgenders like Heart are oftentimes treated unfairly because of who they are and because of their gender and sexuality. As a leader, Heart embodies the soul of UP -- the Iska who can excel to catalyze change, one who could bring about change, if we are willing to accept our differences."
According to the Philippine Inquirer, Heart was born Gabriel Paolo Diño. She just completed a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, magna cum laude, and is currently an MS Applied Mathematics major. She led the Alyansa ticket (Alyansa ng mga Mag-aaral para sa Panlipunang Katwiran at Kaunlaran) and campaigned on a platform of antigender discrimination, transparency and zero fraternity-related violence.
In addition to the election of Heart Diño, bisexual, female student, Alex Castro was elected vice chair of the UP Diliman USC and another openly transgender student, film major Pat Bringas, also won a council seat.
LGBT are generally accepted in the Philippines, particularly in the entertainment industry, however, discrimination still against the group.
In the predominantly Roman Catholic country, the dividing line between gays and the Church is large.
Other more recent discrimination has been by the Philippines government itself. Just a few months ago, Philippine Health Secretary Enrique Ona said parents, “should rein in their homosexual children and get them tested”.
In addition, violence against LGBT, including murder, has also increased recently on the archipelago.
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