Free Pride 20! Activism is not a crime!

Anakbayan Toronto demands the release of 20 individuals who were violently dispersed and unlawfully arrested by the Philippine National Police (PNP) on June 26th, 2020.

A peaceful Pride March was held today at Mendiola Street, Manila by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+) community and allies, many from progressive people’s organizations such as Bahaghari National and Gabriela Women’s Party. Among the 20 arrested are 10 LGBTQ+ members, 8 allies, and 2 drivers.

Pride started as a protest in 1969 and 51 years later, LGBTQ+ worldwide people continue to demand for their rights and freedom. To commemorate pride, the individuals arrested were exercising their right to protest with calls such as “Junk Terror Bill!” and “Stop bullying LGBT children!”. They practiced social distancing, wore masks, and carried placards with their calls for justice echoing through the streets of Manila. Meanwhile, the police officers physically harassed drivers to force them out of their vehicles and did not inform the people they arrested of their violations. The police even had the audacity to hijack one of the protesters’ vehicles to drive them to the police station.

Still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, the US-funded and trained PNP continues to quell the people’s resistance as they struggle towards national liberation and genuine democracy. 

“This attack on people’s rights comes days before the Anti-Terror Bill will be signed into law,” said Fatima Barron, Anakbayan Toronto Chairperson. “The impending Anti-Terror Bill is only the latest attack by the US-Duterte regime on the Philippine people as it aims to silence the organized masses who rightfully criticize his anti-people policies.”

“Queer liberation in the West must be linked with the liberation of oppressed LGBTQ+ in semi- and neo-colonies. I recognize my rights and privileges as a queer Filipino woman in Canada and know that this is not the case for the LGBTQ+ people in the Philippines. This is why it is important for us in the diaspora to amplify their calls such as passing the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression) Equality bill. From Canada to the Philippines, Pride is a protest, Pride is resistance, and our existence is resistance.” said Stefanie Martin, member of Anakbayan Toronto.

We, the Filipino youth of Anakbayan Toronto, with members who identify as LGBTQ+, demand the release of our LGBTQ+ Filipino siblings and allies! We condemn the violent illegal arrest and dispersal of their peaceful Pride protest! There is no place for the police at Pride! Activism is NOT terrorism!


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