A contestant in a beauty pageant in the Philippines has been praised after she chose to speak about her girlfriend in a question round.
Maria Izobel Taguiam, 17, represented Tabogon at the first Binibining Cebu pageant on October 28. As part of the competition, the final 12 participants were each asked a question.
Taguiam, before her "official" question, was asked by the hosts if she had a boyfriend. She replied, "Yes but not a boyfriend but a girlfriend. Because I believe love does not see gender and if you love someone, go for it."
Following an interview with Cebu Daily News a couple weeks after the pageant, Taguiam's comments went viral.
Taguiam told Cebu Daily News she wanted to be honest in her interview.
“I’m just proud to have her. I just want to tell people it is indeed okay to love someone regardless of gender,” she said. "I realized that if she doesn’t love me, she won’t even agree to the idea. She’s someone worth loving, she has a beautiful soul."
The Philippines is considered one of the most LGBT-friendly places on Earth — however, President Rodrigo Duterte has openly opposed gay marriage and recently pushed back against efforts to legalize it.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Taguiam for further comment, but for now she seems to have made her feelings pretty clear.
Rachael Krishna is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.