LTO draws flak for including LGBTQ+ in priority lanes
MANILA, Philippines — A group championing the rights of the LGBTQ+ community has called out the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for including the sector among the people who can be accommodated in the agency’s priority lanes, saying the gesture may be “well-meaning” but ultimately misguided.
Reyna Valmores, national chair of advocacy group Bahaghari, said they welcomed the agency’s initiative to “address the concerns” of the LGBTQ+.
But she pointed out that priority lanes in government agencies are meant to serve people coping with certain difficulties.
These lanes are usually limited to seniors, the pregnant, and persons with disabilities, among others.
“So we want to make it clear — being an LGBTQ+ in no way impairs or affects a person in a physical capacity to take part in crucial governmental functions,” Valmores said in a phone interview on Saturday.
She said the LTO’s accommodation of the community could lead to a “misleading implication” that being a member is an impairment.
Two instances of the agency’s inclusion of the LGBTQ+ in its priority lanes have gone viral on social media.
One post on Saturday showed a photograph of the LTO’s San Isidro District Office in Isabela province with a sign indicating a priority lane for “senior citizen, pregnant woman, person with disability and LGBTQ.”
“Enough with the excessive pandering, LTO San Isidro. Not only are you insulting the group you are pandering to, you are also drawing unnecessary animosity towards them,” went the comment by Anna Cosio together with her post.
An earlier post on Valentine’s Day showed the agency’s Batanes District Office with heart-shaped balloons decorating a “special lane for senior citizen, person w/ disability, pregnant woman and LGBTQ.”
“Netizens, especially members of the LGBT, admired their inclusion in the priority lane of the LTO,” a staff member of Radio Pilipinas-Batanes was quoted as saying in that post by the radio station.
‘Just to make sense’
Following the Saturday post, LTO spokesperson Divine Reyes sent the media a message from LTO Region 2 (Cagayan Valley Office) explaining that the lanes are “just to make sense and elevate the confidence of that sector which has been, until now, discriminated and ostracized, thus we are fostering the understanding and acceptance of the members of the LGBTQ as equal.”
Reyes added that the inclusion of the LGBTQ+ in its priority lanes was part of the LTO’s “gender and development” (GAD) project for the month of March.
She also sent another response, this time from Manuel Baricaua, the officer in charge of LTO Region 2, saying “Please extend my apologies as OIC to groups who were hurt by our GAD project. Please, no malice but only good intentions.”
Valmores said her group is more than willing to help the LTO in crafting guidelines for its transactions with the public.
“This will be for all their workers and clients to ensure that there would be no discrimination in their workplace. This would be productive for them as this would be a part of addressing the concerns raised by the LGBT community,” she said.
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