Why Is SOGIE Bill Important?
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  • Why Is SOGIE Bill Important? Understanding SOGIE Bill Through Historical, Legal, And Egalitarian Perspectives

Why is SOGIE Bill important? In this article, we shall discuss the aforesaid topic. The equal protection article of the 1987 constitution, in particular, is intended to be fulfilled by the SOGIE [Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression] Equality Bill. It affirms that LGBTQ++ people are on an equal footing with everyone else and guarantees that their rights are upheld.

Law, Equality, and Justice

No matter what their circumstances, everyone has the right to respect and protection because they are human beings, not things. Human rights are also innate to being a human person, regardless of our disability, gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, religion, or any other status.

We are all equally entitled to human rights, which are interrelated, indivisible, and interdependent. (What are human rights?) But nowadays, a growing threat to human beings’ rights is gradually spreading like wildfire in the whole world; it’s called Discrimination.

Why is SOGIE Bill important?

The bill also recognizes the Philippines’ obligations under international law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Thus, it acknowledges that it is both a national and an international obligation to prevent prejudice against LGBTQ++ people.

In matters of gender and gender equality, among others, this paper discusses how we can further understand the SOGIE Bill, also known as Senate Bill No. 689, “An An Act Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (Sogie) and Providing Penalties Therefor”, through three different perspectives namely: Historical, Legal and Egalitarian. This essay also suggests recommendations on how to fill in the gaps and lapses of the bill’s current draft.

Historical Perspective 

This paper’s historical perspective discusses the emergence of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,  queer/questioning) community and/or LGBTQIA+[1]LGBTQIA Studies: Research and topic suggestions (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,  queer/questioning, intersex, asexual) category in the Philippines, as well as its progress and development.

May be as a gender expression, we could also talk about the foundations of anti-discrimination and/or protection laws in the Philippines, which commonly lean towards the context of secular morality, which introduces non-establishment and free exercise clauses.

Significant progress has been made in recognizing the rights of LGBTQIA+ members in the Philippines, not only as human beings but also as civil personalities. These issues have broad political and possibly legal support and equal rights.

These members, however, continue to face barriers to full equality with other citizens. Several Philippine cities and provinces have specific laws protecting these members from discrimination.

Yet, these laws are not always effective, and those responsible for enforcing them are not always effective. In 2017, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Anti-Discrimination Bill, which seeks to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Nonetheless, owing to stalling tactics by conservative senators, the bill did not pass the Senate in 2019. Other senators have already proposed new legislation to protect these senators.[2]SOGIE Equality Bill passes Senate committee; still in limbo due to anti-LGBTQIA senators

Although societal tolerance for this community is high, and despite the fact that some religious leaders have publicly condemned same-sex relationships, members are still fighting for something much more than tolerance: social equality.[3]Position Paper of Pro-Life Philippines Foundation, Inc. on Anti-Discrimination Bills on SOGIE

Even though LGBTQIA+ people are under-represented in political and business leadership positions, media representation of them is accurate and sympathetic.

Despite pushback from conservative politicians and religious leaders, there are many LGBTQIA+ organizations which work towards the legalization of same-sex marriage, legal gender recognition, and nationwide anti-discrimination bill.

To further deepen our understanding of the awareness of how the LGBTQIA+ Community came to being, we must first understand the history of the said community.

Filipino LGBTQIA+ youth today may not be aware of the history of a community where they belong. Many have long disregarded the community’s roots in the conservative culture of the Philippines.

The first account of women and gender crossing men playing significant roles in the Philippines society was the Babaylan, a priestess who was a bounty of knowledge and spirituality. The babaylan even had the power to take over the barangay (village) in the absence of the datu (community leader).

There were some babaylan who were male called asog, who were free to have homosexual relations without societal judgment The asog led revolts against the oppression of the Spanish colonial period, using various incantations to command the strength of the revolt.

During the 300-year Spanish colonization of the Philippines, an ideological shift was on the horizon. The Spanish introduced patriarchy and the machismo concept from the indigenous matriarchy, making gender crossing a mocked practice.

It wasn’t long before effeminate men were looked down on as well, leading to the development of regional vernacular for what the Tagalog all bakla (gay man, also means “confused”, “cowardly”). The American colonization period further reinforced of Western conceptualization of gender and sexuality, cementing it in formal education.

After the Second World War ended in 1942, gay rights activist Justo Justo established the Home of the Golden Gays in 1975. It was intended to be a home for elderly gay men who had been kicked out by their families, primarily due to a lack of financial contribution.

It has evolved into a loving community of vibrant and distinct individuals. Unfortunately, the home was forced to close after Justo died in 2012. The women’s movement of the 1980s was a high point in the lesbian community’s struggle to be visible in public. In recent decades, the lesbian community has felt invisible and ignored.

Lesbian issues have been subsumed under women’s and feminist studies, which were previously heterosexual in nature, as well as the gay movement, which previously prominently conceptualized lesbian women as female versions of homosexual men.

As a result, the lesbian community wished to have their voices heard in the fight against dictatorship. Finally, the underground women’s organization MAKIBAKA issued a position paper on the movement’s sexual orientation issues.

Later in the 1990s, the issue of gender and sexuality became a primary concern in the women’s movement, resulting in the formation of The Lesbian Collective, LESBOND, Can’t Live in the Closet, and the first National Lesbian Rights Conference.

The first LGBTQIA+ pride march held in the Philippines on June 26, 1994, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Stonewall Riot, is another significant event in the movement’s history.

Not only was the march the first of its kind in Asia, but also in the Philippines. The Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) Manila and the Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (PROGAY Philippines) jointly planned this event. There were just sixty (60) participants in the said march.

The public saw members of the LGBTQIA+ community speaking out for equality on such a large scale for the first time as they marched from EDSA to Quezon Avenue to Quezon Memorial Circle in Quezon City.

The LGBT Non-Discrimination Policy Resolution was recently published by the Psychological Association of the Philippines (PAP) in October 2011. This came about in reaction to several letters, phone calls, and concerns about ethics against a licensed psychologist who suggested conversion treatment for kids who come out as gay or lesbian in order to have a “happy family life.”

This policy statement reaffirmed the community’s members’ inherent equality and dignity as well as their right to be free from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender expression.

The American Psychiatric Association’s 1973 position that same-gender sexual orientations are a healthy, non-disordered variation of human sexuality, love, and relationships was further reinforced by this resolution. In November 2014, the resolution was later translated into Tagalog.

The members now benefit from the work that their forebears’ brothers and sisters did to advance LGBTQIA+ visibility and rights. To attain equality, there is still considerable work to be done. The Philippines currently lacks a comprehensive anti-discrimination statute.

While some Philippine laws outright restrict gender expression and overlook gender identity in workplaces, others are occasionally utilized to coerce the members. Thankfully, House Bill 267, also known as the Anti-SOGIE Discrimination Act (or “SOGIE” Bill), was presented on June 30, 2016, by Geraldine B. Roman, the first transgender member of Congress.

Beyond laws and policies, the members are crucial to realizing this vision of equality because they fight stigma and maintain visibility.

Recently, the Philippines has joined the list of nations that have enacted measures to combat discrimination (European Youth Center, 2008). The first law in the Philippines to fight discrimination that is only motivated by ignorance, prejudice, and unfavorable preconceptions is the anti-discrimination law in Cebu. (2012) Cebu Daily News

Since the Anti-Discrimination Law affects a wide range of Filipinos—including those of different genders, impairments, sexual orientations, ages, nationalities, and religions—the law’s approval is already a fantastic “first step” toward change.

The 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that “The State values the dignity of every person and guarantees full respect for human rights”.[4]Article II, Section 11, 1987 Constitution It also provides that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.”[5]Article III, Section 1, 1987 Constitution

Republic Act No. 9710, otherwise known as the Magna Carta of Women (MCW), provides that “All individuals are equal as human beings by virtue of the inherent dignity of each human person. No one should therefore suffer discrimination based on ethnicity, gender, age, language, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, political or other opinions, national, social or geographical origin, disability, property, birth, or another status as established by human rights standards”.[6]Section 3, RA 9710.

LGBT applicants for civil service tests are not allowed to be discriminated against, according to a Civil Service Commission Memorandum, Circular No. 29-2010. Additionally, a clause that prohibits discrimination in the selection for promotion based on numerous factors, including gender, is included in the CSC’s Revised Policies on Merit and Promotion plan.

The National Police Commission, on the other hand, forbids discrimination in recruiting, selection, and appointment practices based on gender by Memorandum Circular 2005-02.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has released a Memorandum reaffirming people of varied SOGIs’ freedom to dress in accordance with their preferred sexual orientation and gender identity.

Additionally, 25 LGUs have passed anti-discrimination laws that forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, namely:

  • Barangays Bagbag,
  • Greater Lagro and Pansol in Quezon City,
  • Angeles City in Pampanga,
  • Antipolo City,
  • Bacolod City,
  • Batangas City,
  • Baguio City,
  • Butuan City,
  • Candon City,
  • Cebu City,
  • Dagupan City,
  • Davao City,
  • General Santos City,
  • Malabon City,
  • Mandaue City,
  • Marikina City,
  • Puerto Princesa,
  • Quezon City,
  • Vigan City,
  • Municipality of San Julian in Eastern Samar,
  • Province of Agusan del Norte,
  • Province of Batangas,
  • Province of Dinagat Islands,
  • Province of Cavite, and
  • Province of Iloilo.

How the SOGIE Bill is understood may depend on the arrival of secularism in the Philippines. In the Philippines, morality plays a significant role in the formulation of laws. In 2014, Nicolo Bernardo, in his Book entitled PhiLawsophia: Philosophy and Theory of Law with Philippines Laws and Cases, defined “morality” by giving a distinction between secular morality and religious morality.[7]Bernardo, N. F., & Bernardo, O. B. (2017). Law, Justice, and Equality in  Philawsophia: Philosophy and theory of law

In sovereign countries where there is no separation of church and state, such as Islamic states and the Vatican, the law must reflect what the established religion considers moral.

For states that follow the non-establishment clause, such as, ideally, the Philippines, secular morality known as “public morals” are legal considerations. It is a morality based on popular ideas, legal sources, and common aspirations expressed in policies rather than religion. Obedience to state law is a secular moral principle in and of itself.

The Philippines is a secular state that is friendly to religions (Batalla and Baring, 2019). Ahmet Kuru in 2009 defined the secular state by two main characteristics, namely:

(1) the absence of institutional religious control of legislative and judicial processes, and

(2) constitutionally mandated neutrality towards religion, and non-establishment of an official religion or atheism.

The free exercise clause protects all citizens’ religious convictions and, to a lesser extent, religious practices. The establishment provision, which is more contentious, prohibits the government from excessively supporting, encouraging, or interfering with religion and religious activity.

While the Philippines’ “friendly” reputation benefits the country’s religious residents, it is also used against LGBTQIA+ people who are simply exercising their human rights. Students from the community are an example of this, as they are all too frequently subjected to bullying, discrimination, a lack of information about the LGBT community, and, in some cases, physical or sexual assault.

These wrongdoings have the potential to have a serious impact on students’ ability to pursue an education, which is guaranteed by both Philippine and international law. In recent years, policymakers and school officials in the Philippines have developed initiatives to address the major issue of bullying of LGBT adolescents.

In order to prevent harassment and discrimination in schools, especially on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the Department of Education (DepEd), which is in responsible of overseeing primary and secondary schools, developed a Child Protection Policy in 2012.

Bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity are prohibited under the Anti-Bullying Law of 2013, as well as the accompanying rules and regulations, which were passed by Congress in 2013.

By adopting these rules, educational institutions are making it quite apparent that they detest bullying and discrimination and do not support them. Although these policies appear to be sound on paper, they have not been effectively put into practice.

In the lack of appropriate implementation and supervision, many LGBT youth continue to experience bullying and harassment at school. The poor treatment that LGBT students experience from peers and teachers is made worse by the discriminatory practices that stigmatize and disenfranchise them as well as the lack of resources and information on LGBT problems in schools.

The occurrences detailed in this study highlight how crucial it is to strengthen and enforce protections for LGBTQIA+ adolescents in schools. These incidents could also be utilized to support the adoption of protective legislation for LGBTQIA+ people on a national level.

Legal Perspective 

This discussion covers the bill’s components, its writers and their sources of inspiration, the measure’s advancement through the legislative process, common misconceptions about the bill, and its justification for being.

House Bill No. 4982 or “An Act Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (Sogie) and Providing Penalties Therefor” is the first of its kind in the country. Other anti-discrimination measures have been introduced in the past, but they never specifically addressed the SOGIE community, lumping the LGBTIA+ sector in with other groups like the disabled or indigenous people.

The first iteration of the SOGIE Equality Bill was introduced in the 11th Congress by the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Rep. Etta Rosales of the Akbayan.

Because of the arduous efforts of Representative Geraldine Roman from Bataan’s first congressional district, Representative Emmeline Aglipay-Villar from the Diwa Party List, and Representative Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao from the Dinagat Islands, it is finally being fulfilled in the 17th Congress.

While the bill still needs to be approved by the Senate, its passage in the House is a significant victory for the LGBTQIA+ community. While the bill has already passed the lower house, it is still being debated in the Senate.

Senators Tito Sotto III, Manny Pacquiao, and Joel Villanueva, all of whom have been vocal about their religious beliefs, are among those who are vehemently opposed to its passage.

Several Christian organizations have also expressed their displeasure. According to the Christian Coalition for Righteousness, Justice, and Truth (CCRJT), the bill actually perpetuates rather than prevents discrimination because it discriminates against those who do not agree with the LGBTQIA+ community.

Proponents of the bill, on the other hand, vow to keep fighting for its passage into law. Senator Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality, emphasizes the importance of enacting legislation to protect people from sexual and gender-based discrimination and inequality, and laments the lack of such legislation.

The legislation starts by defining and introducing the concepts of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. It also includes a glossary of terminology related to the previously mentioned themes.

Following that, it lists the acts that would be considered discriminatory and unlawful by the law, such as depriving members of the LGBTQIA+ community of rights based on their SOGIE, such as the right to access public services, use businesses and services, including housing, and apply for a professional license, among others.

Discrimination against an employee or anyone hired to provide services, refusal or revocation of accreditation to any organization due to an individual’s SOGIE, and denial of admission to or expulsion from an educational institution will all be punished.

Furthermore, the bill defines discrimination as the publication of information intended to “out” a person without that person’s consent, public speech designed to denigrate LGBTQ+ people, harassment and coercion of the latter by anyone, particularly those involved in law enforcement, and gender profiling.

The bill specifically addresses children under parental control because preventing them from expressing their SOGIE will be punishable.

The legislation contains no provisions that would make same-sex marriage legal or that assigning sex to infants would result in punishment.

Furthermore, there are no consequences for insulting LGBTQ+ people unless they are forced to do so due to their SOGIE. Harassment or coercion of LGBTQIA+ people is a violation of the SOGIE.

If any of the aforementioned offenses are committed, a fine of 100,000 to 500,000 pesos (P100,000 to P500,000) or a prison term of 1–6 years (P1–6 years), or both, would be imposed. The court may also order community service in the form of participation in human rights training.

In addition to being punitive, the bill also serves a preventative purpose. The Women, Children, and LGBTQIA+ Protection Desk will now be known as the Women, Children, and LGBTQIA+ Protection Desk, and the police will be required to complete human rights-based training. It also orders the integration of SOGIE concerns in all police station activities and services.

Through social protection and diversity programs, it promotes nondiscrimination and even rewards media outlets that portray LGBTQIA+ people favorably. To properly carry out the Act, a SOGIE Equality Oversight Committee shall be established.

The equal protection article of the 1987 constitution, in particular, is intended to be fulfilled by the SOGIE Equality Bill. It affirms that LGBTQIA+ people are on an equal footing with everyone else and guarantees that their rights are upheld.

The bill also recognizes the Philippines’ obligations under international law, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The non-discrimination of the LGBTQIA+ is thus seen as a national and worldwide responsibility.

Senator Francis Pangilinan is reintroducing Senate Bill No. 689, which has the same intended title as House Bill No. 4892 and Senate Bill 159, in the First Regular Session of the 18th Congress.

The same’s explanation note outlines the justification for why it should be highlighted and reads as follows:

“It is high time for the Philippines to join the long list of countries with a national anti-discrimination law. With the hopes of giving the LGBT community full acceptance, and not just tolerance, this proposed legislation aims to finally eliminate the hate and discrimination against them. This bill also seeks to create an environment that is safe, equal, and reasonable for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.”[8]Explanatory Note, Senate Bill No. 689

The Supreme Court decided in favor of the Ang Ladlad Partylist, stating that the LGBT sector deserved to participate in the party-list system on the same basis as other marginalized and under-represented sectors, in one of the instances involving the legal fight for gender equality.

In another case, the court ruled in favor of the wife, stating that “moral laxity alone does not prove parental neglect or incompetence.” The husband had sought custody of his child with an estranged wife, whom the petitioner claimed was immoral because of the ex-wife’s current relationship with a lesbian.

International human rights laws and treaties also include provisions protecting the rights of people with various SOGIE. Everyone has the right to life, personal safety, and privacy, as well as the freedom from discrimination, torture, and arbitrary imprisonment. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression and association.

According to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), no one’s intrinsic right to life shall be violated and that no one shall be deprive of their life without justification.

On proposed measures, misconceptions are unavoidable, and SOGIE Bill was unable to avoid them. The legislation safeguards LGBTQIA+ people against discrimination rather than promoting same-sex unions.

Although it provides members with equal access to employment, education, and social services, it will not penalize those who use their right to religious freedom in the classroom. It won’t impose rules on what is taught in churches or how hiring is done in businesses.

It will support initiatives that encourage diversity and anti-discrimination in companies and schools. It will not permit the changing of the gender designations on birth certificates but will offer services to safeguard LGBTIQ+ students in classrooms.

Last but not least, the bill gives everyone equal rights; it does not violate heterosexual people. Sexual harassment and assault are illegal regardless of your sexual orientation.

Egalitarian Perspective

On the egalitarian perspective, the focus is the importance of the legislation of SOGIE Bill. We are going to discuss about equality and safe spaces for the members not just at work but also in public areas. Those who are to be benefited and the advantages and disadvantages of the bill will also be discussed.

According to egalitarianism, which is explored by Bernardo (2014), “all men are born equal,” or that “we are all equal in terms of being human, and the rights relevant to the fact of being human, regardless of status,” refers to one’s humanity. Regardless of our race, we are all members of the same human species and are capable of interbreeding.[9]Supra., Bernardo, N. F., & Bernardo, O. B. (2017). Law, Justice, and Equality in  Philawsophia: Philosophy and theory of law

For everyone to at least have the “equal chance” to develop as any other person will, he further asserts that equality before the law is a universal enfranchisement. Life is not fair, to be sure, but since man sought equality and a more just society despite the unfairness of life, he must make equality his priority.[10]Ibid.

Although the Philippines has made significant progress toward gender equality, little has been done to recognize the rights of people with different sexual orientations, gender identities, and expressions (SOGIE) to be shielded from various forms of discrimination in both private and public institutions.[11]Enacting a Law Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression [SOGIE]

People of various SOGIE are exposed to discriminatory practices that prevent them from fully and meaningfully participating in institutions of higher learning, employment, and training, and that restrict their access to essential services due to the lack of a protective legislative framework (e.g., health and social services, access to justice).[12]Ibid.

Stereotyping and more severe types of stigma, such as unjust treatment and outright rejection, are among the sorts of discrimination that people from varied SOGIE suffer.

A nightclub in Taguig City turned away a few transwomen in 2015 because of their “No Crossdressers Allowed Policy.” When one of them showed the security guard their California State ID, which had their female name and gender marker, they were still turned away and told, “Lalaki pa rin ‘yan,” meaning “He’s still a man.”

A rape victim had rectal surgery in 2008 to have a canister that had been used to sexually attack him removed. Unbeknownst to him at the time, the attending medical staff recorded the procedure while making fun of the patient in images and videos. The victim became the target of public ridicule and contempt from the neighborhood church as a result of the video being posted online.

Owing to the restriction that their clothes must conform to the sex shown in their school records, transgender students have recently been prohibited from wearing the attire of their choosing during graduation ceremonies.

The implications of harassment and abuse on people of different SOGIE range from psychological damage to bodily harm and even death.

Anecdotal evidence from the lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community shows that victims of such crimes struggle to receive restitution because of service providers’ prejudices, notwithstanding the lack of disaggregated statistics on cases.

Additionally, some report being victimized in rape cases by court and police officials and being targeted by law enforcement because of their gender identity.

Due to the inadequate judicial knowledge of gender presentation and identity, some people also fail to receive the correct remedies. In a court case, the trial court in Cagayan de Oro City upheld the elementary school principal’s conduct of making a pupil wear a school curtain because the student had refused to wear the required uniform skirt for girls.

This case serves as an example of this incorrect remedy. To “give sense to the agreed-upon school policy and to correct AAA’s deviant attitude,” the principal acted in a way that was deemed to be “within the scope of her power.”

The 1987 Constitution states that the State appreciates each person’s inherent worth and ensures complete observance of all human rights as well as each person’s right to equal protection under the law.

The injustices and biases that people of different SOGIE experience, however, are still present. They have no legal options for remedy because there is no national policy that forbids these discriminatory acts.

As a result, other people and both governmental and private institutions continue to violate their human rights. Advocates for the SOGIE Bill urge the national government to heed their pleas. They include both LGBTQIA+ community members and non-members.

They contend that they cannot rely on municipal ordinances to protect them from discrimination if there is no national law protecting their rights. LGBTQ+ supporters looked for alternative strategies to shield the community from discrimination because Congress has consistently failed to enact a national anti-discrimination statute.

They resorted to their local governments for some, albeit limited, protection while they waited for the law to catch up. The Quezon City government enacted the country’s first local Anti-Discrimination Ordinance in 2003. (ADO).

Angie Umbac, a former Rainbow Rights Philippines leader, claims that incidents of bullying and harassment experienced by LGBTQ+ college students in dorm bathrooms sparked discussions about passing a local ordinance to address such discriminatory behavior.

The ordinance was created using the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB) that was then being debated in Congress. Despite the somewhat insufficient protection it offered, Quezon City’s first anti-discrimination law cleared the path for other local governments to pass their own laws to safeguard LGBTQ Filipinos.

Later, in 2014, Quezon City passed a more thorough ADO. These ordinances frequently have clauses that define and punish discriminatory behavior. Anti-discrimination laws, according to Magdalena Robinson of the Cebu United Rainbow LGBTQ Sector (CURLS), just maintain, protect, and advance human rights and dignity.

Nevertheless, not all of these local government organizations have implemented the relevant implementing rules and regulations in accordance with the ordinances that they may have passed in their respective areas (IRR). Without these, they run the risk of being unable to put their ordinances into action, rendering them essentially useless.

Those who are against the law argue that the SOGIE Bill only protects the few and the privilege, which is one of the misconceptions of what the bill is actually for. Everyone has their own SOGIE, since every single person has his own sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Members of the LGBTQIA+ are not the only ones who can benefit from this bill. As previously discussed under the historical perspective of this paper, religion is one of the huge factors that cause delay on the progress of the SOGIE Bill.

Bro. Eddie Villanueva claimed in an interview with Karen Davila that while citing the Bible, “Respectfully, I love them because God loves us all, even if we are all sinners, but they are spiritually ill because God created them in His image.

They were created in God’s image, both male and female; adding another gender and a slew of threats would be an open defiance of God “Giving statements like these is risky because, despite the fact that the Philippines is a religiously friendly country, we adhere to non-establishment and free exercise clauses in creating and enforcing our laws because we are a secular country.

The principle of separation of church and State comes in to play in this situation. Him giving his statement is an example of an explicit rejection of the ways of self-expression of the members of the LGBTQIA+ Community. It is like he is saying that being your true self [as part of this community] is a direct rebellion to God.

Advocates of the bill further contend that people can always ask the members on how they can be addressed, or what pronouns to be used in order to not get confused during conversations. Yes, confusion is inevitable but it is not hard to ask first for the preference of the person you are addressing.

When a person wants to be identified as someone else, or as another kind of expression or gender, it is all about respect. It is okay to not know things and to be faced with something that one is not used to because this opens up an opportunity to learn and educate oneself.

As much as we want to appreciate SOGIE as an anti-discrimination bill, the said bill is still open for deliberations and disadvantages can still be experienced. Atty. Jimmy Gatdula, in his House testimony on the SOGI anti-discrimination bill, identifies these disadvantages.

He contends that here is the paradox that by seeking the removal of discrimination, that discrimination is the result. Section 3.a of the bill defines “discrimination” again in an unfortunately ambiguous way, to the point that the bill seeks to provide discrimination in relation to “all rights and freedoms”. This paradoxically creates its own set of discriminations.

Equal rights and freedoms are not accorded to all citizens. Yet just a small number of people will get to experience what the majority of people do not. He continues by saying that our legal system is inherently structured on discrimination, which many people may not realize.

From who can run for Congress to who may practice law or medicine, from who can consume alcohol to who can operate a motor vehicle, we distinguish and make judgements. Our laws forbid any form of discrimination that is based on unfair treatment of people who are members of the same class.

These disadvantages open the lapses on the current draft of the bill. Since it has only been brought up recently on the 18th Congress, these lapses will be discussed, and the authors are open to criticisms on how the bill can be constructed better.

Possible Recommendations

The draft of the current bill needs further study on the probable effect it will have it will have on other laws. According to the typical list of “rights” that LGBT activists have, these include laws governing employment, military service, adoption, marriage, student activities (such as attending school dances with same-sex dates and dressing in gender nonconforming ways if they choose), parenting, schools, and government identity documents.

In that case, it will be necessary to examine and address the implications and potential conflicts this will have with respect to the constitutional protections relating to religion, free expression, academic freedom, and contract, as well as its relationship to family (including marriage, adoption, succession), labor, education, tax and social services, military, and health laws, among other things..

The affected stakeholders need to have a say and be consulted because the possible unintended effect is discrimination in order to ostensibly rid of discrimination.

Other more specific difficulties that need to be addressed in the design of the bill, notably with regard to ambiguity and the difficulty of implementation, exist in addition to the basic issues in connection with international law, the nature of rights, and constitutional interpretation.

Lastly, the identity of those to be protected must be distinguished. It would be appropriate to note at the outset that Facebook alone recognizes at least 51 genders. There may be three or perhaps as many genders as there are people, according to different gender experts. The key takeaway is that there is no evidence to support a genetic basis for homosexuality. The nature and origin of sexual inclination are also controversial.

This is crucial because the Draft Law’s ability to: a) accurately identify persons who are entitled to the protections it provides; and b) be applied by the police or court system in terms of evidence is necessary for it to be effective.

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) also supports the anti-discrimination law’s passage since it will guarantee that all people’s rights, regardless of their SOGIE, are safeguarded and promoted.

The PCW pushes recommendations for a law that will:

(1) Penalize discriminatory acts such as but not limited to: non-hiring or dismissal of workers, refusal of admission from any educational institution, denial of access to services available to the general public, revocation of license, denial of access to establishments or facilities on the basis of SOGIE;[13]Supra., Enacting a Law Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression [SOGIE]

(2) Establish mechanisms to monitor, report and record incidents of SOGIE-based discrimination and abuse;[14]Ibid.

(3) Create redress mechanisms to address complaints of acts of discrimination;[15]Ibid.

(4) Provide guidelines in:[16]Ibid.

a) assisting victims of SOGIE-based discrimination and abuse, and[17]Ibid.

b) treatment of persons with diverse SOGIE who are arrested or detained for commission of criminal offenses;[18]Ibid.

(5) Mandate the review and repeal or amendment of provisions of existing national and local policies discriminatory to persons with diverse SOGIE (e.g., Amend RPC to define acts that constitutes grave scandal provision of the RPC);[19]Ibid.

(6) Mandate the crafting of non-discriminatory workplace policies in recruitment, job promotion and evaluation criteria, training and education;[20]Ibid.

(7) Mandate awareness-raising campaigns with media, public and private institutions, educational and training institutions; and[21]Ibid.

(8) Integrate orientation on the rights of persons of diverse SOGIE in new employee orientation in both public and private institutions.[22]Ibid.

Conclusion

Members of the LGTQI+ Community have been fighting for their rights for decades, and discrimination is still rampant in our current time. In the historical perspective, we are able to identify the roots of the members in our country and how the views of the Filipinos towards this topic is influenced by those who have occupied the country.

We were also able to understand how religion has become a huge factor on how Filipinos deal with the members, and how it is still being used against the passing of the bill. From the legal perspective, we are to understand what the bill is about – on why the authors and advocates push through for its legislation.

We are also able to understand its progress in the House of Representatives and in the Senate of the Philippines. In the egalitarian perspective, we were opened to the concept of equality for all – on how the bill can open opportunities for the members and non-members to learn more about one another and how the bill can be used to protect their rights against discrimination and be able to feel equal to one another.

The bill is not perfectly constructed and it still needs further polishing in terms of constitutional requisites, but its rationale in the explanatory note has provided for its importance and how it can be used to develop the relationships among Filipinos towards members of the LGBTQIA+ Community.

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RALB Law | RABR & Associates Law Firm

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