MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The first transgender politician elected in the Philippines said she hopes her win in a congressional race shows that people like her can contribute to nation-building in a country where LGBT people are still sometimes publicly ridiculed.
The Commission on Elections proclaimed Geraldine Roman winner of May 9’s election in the first district of northern Bataan province.
Roman, who takes over a congressional seat previously occupied by her mother, said she is happy to have survived the humiliation and attacks on her gender by political opponents during the campaign.
The former editor of a Spanish news agency said she hopes her story will inspire the LGBT community and show the need for compassion in society.
“By winning, I’m sending a statement to Philippine society that even people of my condition can contribute in nation-building and serving the people,” she said in a telephone interview.
Roman said her experience showed that the “politics of hatred, bigotry and prejudice did not prevail” and “what prevailed were acceptance, love and tolerance.”
Once in the House of Representatives, she said among the bills she will work to pass are those on education, health care, agriculture, transparency in government and anti-discrimination.
Boxing great Manny Pacquiao, who was member of the House but who appears to have won a seat in the Philippine Senate based on the unofficial count, had angered the LGBT community and their supporters when he said in February that people in same-sex marriage are “worse than animals.” He later apologized but made it clear he opposed gay marriage.
Rodrigo Duterte, the bombastic mayor of a major southern city who has won the presidency by a wide margin based on the unofficial count, has on a number of occasions also ridiculed his political rival, calling him gay.