House approves anti-discrimination bill on 2nd reading
In a victory for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed on second reading a bill banning discrimination against persons on the basis of gender.
By a voice vote, the 293-member chamber approved the “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE)” bill, which recognizes each person’s fundamental right to be free from discrimination regardless of sex, age, class, status, ethnicity, color, disability, religious and political beliefs, sexual orientation or gender identity.
The proposed law will prohibit discriminatory actions toward the LGBT, such as denial of access to private medical or health services on the basis of gender and refusing admission from any educational or training institution.
Under the bill, offenses shall be penalized with a fine not less than P100,000 but not exceeding P500,000 and imprisonment of between one year and 10 years.
Laguna Rep. Sol Aragones, chair of the population and family relations office, fielded questions about the bill on the plenary floor.
Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza expressed support for the bill after getting an assurance from Aragones that the bill would not lead to same-sex marriage.
“Equality won today,” said Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao.
“In passing the SOGIE Equality Bill on second reading, we are closer to realizing what we are dreaming of and fighting for. If this is enacted, we can surely defend our basic rights of each person regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression,” she said in a statement. /kga
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