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Philippines transgender politician celebrates win

After her victory in yesterday’s election, Roman, 49, is being seen by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community as a source of hope in a country where Church influence means divorce, abortion and same-sex marriage are banned.

“The politics of bigotry, hatred and discrimination did not triumph. What triumphed was the politics of love, acceptance and respect,” Roman said after her victory for a seat in Congress representing the farming province of Bataan just northwest of Manila.

Roman, a Catholic, said she was looking forward to becoming a lawmaker so she could respond to critics who dismissed her as a one-issue politician not to be taken seriously.

“I’m elated, very, very happy. I’m also excited to work. I realise that the burden is bigger because the stereotype of people about the LGBT is we are frivolous, that we have nothing substantial to say, so I have to prove them wrong,” she said.

Roman will be the highest-ranking openly LGBT politician in the Philippines, where other lawmakers have refused to come out for fear of losing support from the Catholic Church and other religious groups.

A political neophyte, Roman will succeed her mother as representative of Bataan, where her family has been a political force for three generations. Her mother had to stand down after serving the maximum number of three terms.

Roman’s father was a former congressman whose death in 2014 prompted her to consider continuing the family legacy.

Political families dominate Philippine politics, from the local to the national level, and belonging to such a dynasty was widely regarded as being crucial to Roman’s success. 

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