Police dispersed a demonstration in Manila on Friday, June 26, and arrested at least 20 members of LGBTQIA+ groups for violating quarantine protocols.
The protest rally held a few meters outside the gates of the presidential palace was part of the Pride Month observance of various activist groups in the country.
Police Captain Arnold Echalar of the Manila Police Department said the protesters ignored quarantine measures and disobeyed persons in authority.
The activist group Bahaghari, the organizer of the protest action, condemned the police action, saying it is “not acceptable and is clearly a violation of our rights to gather and to protest.”
Child rights advocacy group Salinlahi said three of those arrested are social workers.
“The [police] dispersed our peaceful protest and illegally arrested our colleagues despite the fact that they could not cite what laws were violated,” said Eule Rico Bonganay, Salinlahi secretary general.
“They even forcefully took over our service vehicles,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Vice President Leni Robredo praised those who organized “pride marches” and campaigns for helping educate communities on gender equality.
Robredo urged members of LGBTQIA+ community in positions of power to use their influence to “change mindsets, promote acceptance, and push reforms on the ground.”
“There is still a lot of work before us and in this fight, who else do we turn to for help other than each other?” she said in a video message.
“As we shape our post-COVID-19 world, may you never lose the enthusiasm and courage [to] be involved and participate. Let’s start with small, but concrete steps,” she said.
Pride Month, which is annually celebrated around the world, marks the Stonewall riots, a series of aggressive protests against police brutality in 1969.
June also marks the first Pride March in the Philippines that took place on June 26, 1994.
Last year, the Metro Manila Pride March was attended by more than 70,000 members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community.