IBTimes UK

Geraldine Roman, a transgender politician from the Philippines, has been elected to the lower house of parliament from a constituency near capital Manila.

The Liberal Party candidate has taken decisive lead in her seat in Bataan province, according to the latest election results.

Roman, 49, hails from a powerful political family and her mother was a member of parliament in the Philippines.

Roman, who spent many years in Spain, never kept her sexual orientation a secret. "Gender only becomes an issue when you try to keep it a secret. I'm so happy so why should I be ashamed? she had said during the campaign, according to the AFP.

LGBT rights are not widely established in the Catholic Philippines, where on the other end of the spectrum there are celebrities such as boxing legend Manny Pacquiao who made headlines by saying homosexuals are worse than animals.

However, Roman says her family has always been supportive of her. Apart from same sex marriage, even divorce and abortion are illegal in the country. Her supporters have said her election to the Congress will chart out a new path of the rights of transsexual people.

"Geraldine Roman is my new hero, the first transgender person to be elected in the Philippines," a Twitter user said.

The Liberal Party candidate had campaigned for changing laws that prevent same sex people from legally changing their name and gender on official documents.

During her time in Spain she worked as a senior editor at the Spanish News Agency. Reuters said in a report she lived as a woman for two decades since changing her name and shares her home with her male partner.

She said she suffered character assassination by rivals at the beginning of the campaign. "At the start, my opponents are trying to convert my gender into an issue and it turns out that people don't mind," she said.

"That somebody of my condition is going to enter congress for the first time is a statement that even transgender people can serve our country and should not be discriminated against," Roman added.

IBTimes UK