By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan

LOVE WINS. An LGBT couple holds a rainbow-colored umbrella in this undated photo. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has issued an executive order (EO) on Dec. 22, 2023 creating a special committee on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) affairs. (PNA file photo by Joan Bondoc)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.’s executive order (EO) creating a special committee on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual (LGBTQIA+) affairs is a testament to his administration’s commitment to upholding gender equality and inclusivity, according to the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

In a statement on Wednesday, DILG Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said he is one with the Chief Executive in espousing a society where diversity and inclusion are part of the foundation of a united country.

“The signing of Executive Order (EO) No. 51, s. 2023 by the President is a bold and welcome move as it recognizes the need to tackle and put the rights of Filipinos, regardless of gender and sexual orientation,” Abalos added.

Abalos said he would push for programs and policies that would promote diversity and fully observe human rights and gender equality.

“Sama-sama nating isulong ang isang Bagong Pilipinas kung saan kabahagi ang bawat Pilipino anuman ang relihiyon, edad, sekswalidad at pagkakalinlan (Together, let’s push for a new Philippines in which every Filipino is a part of, regardless of religion, age, sexuality and identity),” he stressed.

Signed by the President on Dec. 22, the EO provides for the creation of a Special Committee on LGBTQIA+ Affairs under the Inter-Agency Committee which aims to strengthen existing mechanisms to address the continued discrimination being experienced by the members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and to provide them an avenue to participate in policy formulation of the government despite the absence of an established body specifically dedicated to promote their rights and address their concerns.

The Special Committee on LGBTQIA+ Affairs, which will be under the reconstituted Diversity and Inclusion Committee (DIC), will be led by a chairperson with the rank of an undersecretary and will have three members with the rank of assistant secretary.

The DIC will be led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development secretary and co-chaired by the secretaries of the Department of Migrant Workers and the Department of Labor and Employment.

The DILG secretary will serve as the DIC’s vice chairperson. (PNA)