Pia Wurtzbach urges ‘allies’ to help fight for LGBTQIA+ rights

Pia Wurtzbach urges ‘allies’ to help fight for LGBTQIA+ rights
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach waves the LGBTQIA+ flag at Pride Night 2024. —PHOTO COURTESY OF LOVEYOURSELF INC.

Pia Wurtzbach has been a staunch ally of the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and others) community since her much-celebrated journey into pageantry. And nine years after she was crowned Miss Universe in 2015, the actress and global influencer is still advocating its cause.

In welcoming Pride Month this June, Wurtzbach gallantly waved the rainbow flag during the kick-off celebration dubbed “Pride Night 2024” held at the Bridgetown Open Grounds in Pasig City on June 1. The event was mounted by LoveYourself Philippines, a nonprofit she has been supporting even before becoming Miss Universe.

“Happy Pride! Thank you very much for coming here. It’s so happy to see us all together for this … I’m so proud to be an ally, and I’m so proud to be here, to be with all of you,” she addressed the crowd in a mix of English and Filipino.

“I told myself that I should not miss this day. I want to see you, I want to be with you, I want to celebrate. So, thank you very much for coming. Even if it is a bit hot, it is okay, all of us are still beautiful,” she told the thousands of spectators who gathered for an evening of merrymaking.

Supporters of community

Wurtzbach noted how the allyship has grown through the years. Allies are cisgender individuals supporting the community. 

“It’s a delight to see the allies growing, so many beauty queens are becoming LGBTQIA+ community advocates. And it’s not just me, not just Catriona [Gray, 2018 Miss Universe], there are many of us,” she said.

Also spotted during the festivities were newly crowned national beauty titlists, Miss Universe Philippines Chelsea Manalo and 2025 Miss Supranational Philippines Tarah Valencia, who will raise the country’s colors in the global arena.

Wurtzbach has been vocal about LGBTQIA+ rights and welfare even beyond the Pride Month celebrations. In a piece published in Time Magazine years after she had relinquished her Miss Universe title, she wrote: “Perhaps my nontraditional family unit allowed me to accept others’ differences without judgment and has made me proud to advocate for LGBTQ rights as a Christian. In fact, I find the strength to do just that through my faith.”

She again expressed her gratitude to her fellow LGBTQIA+ allies at the Pride Night 2024 celebration. “When there are challenges facing the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s the allies that are there to help fight for the cause, to help fight for the rights, to help fight for their presence. Thank you very much to all the allies, may we grow in number,” she said.

Gender-based discrimination

Despite enjoying a certain level of acceptance in society, the LGBTQIA+ community in the Philippines still has a long way to go before attaining absolute inclusion and freedom. Gender-based discrimination still persists, and right-wing outlooks are challenging whatever progress has been achieved in the country.

The proposed SOGIESC (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics) Equality bill has been languishing in Congress for decades. Just recently, newly installed Senate President Francis Escudero has made a pronouncement that an “anti-discrimination bill” has a better chance of passing.

“Unless the proponents of the SOGIE bill accede to some amendments, it will continue to face rough sailing in the Senate,” said Escudero, who curiously was one of the 18 legislators who csigned a report on the SOGIESC bill prepared by the Senate committees on women and on finance.

It was Sen. Risa Hontiveros who filed the proposal (Senate Bill No. 139) that has already passed the committee level in December 2022. The measure remains pending for second reading. A counterpart bill at the House of Representatives was approved at the committee level in May 2023.

Dr. Leila Joudane, United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) Philippines country representative, has already urged Congress to pass the bill.

Call to action

“Pride Month is a call to action. It’s a time to amplify our commitment to ensuring that every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, is entitled to their human rights, including access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights information and services without discrimination,” Joudane said in a statement.

Wurtzbach reminded the public that one need not be a celebrity or a powerful personality to become an ally. “When you see something happening before you that is not fair, that there is a situation where you can help your LGBTQIA+ compatriot, member of the family, friend, let us help them. Let us start at home. We should not allow slurs to be used as jokes. Let us stop that, it should not be acceptable now,” she said.

She encouraged allies to continue embracing members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and proudly express their support, so that others may be inspired and also take a stand. 

“That person you are helping will become stronger, and one day they will be the one helping others,” Wurtzbach said.

Read more: Pride Month: Ice calls for street marches for gay rights

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