CHR warns Iloilo school: Ordinance penalizes discrimination vs LGBT
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reminded on Saturday Assumption Iloilo, a private Catholic school, that Iloilo City had passed an ordinance penalizing acts that discriminate against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
The CHR issued the statement after the school got flak for tagging “homosexuality” as “immoral” and thus a ground for expulsion, as stated in its handbook for employees and students.
But according to CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, Section IV (2) of Iloilo City Resolution 2016-572 “defines refusal and failing to accept as a student and subjecting a person to terms on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity” an act of discrimination.
De Guia pointed out that the school could be penalized for such a discriminatory policy.
“According to Section V of the same ordinance, any person who commits any of the acts prohibited shall be criminally liable and penalized accordingly and in the case of a juridical person, whether public or private, the manager, head and the officers thereof shall also be criminally accountable and responsible without prejudice to other liabilities, if any,” De Guia said.
Religious educational institutions, she added, should be responsible for creating safe spaces for students belonging to the LGBT community.
“Assumption Iloilo, in adopting a definition of immorality that includes homosexuality, is complicit in discriminating children of diverse SOGIESC and runs counter to the notion that schools are safe spaces,” De Guia said.
SOGIESC stands for “sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristic.”
“As a Christ-centered educational community, it is their moral responsibility to provide a more equal and accepting safe space for all students, regardless of gender expression and sexual orientation,” she added.
Living in also a ground for explusion
Assumption Iloilo drew flak after the Daily Guardian, an Iloilo-based media outlet, posted on Facebook a part of the school’s contract with incoming students that showed what certain activities or traits were considered immoral and are grounds for dismissal from the school.
Considered immoral by the school are engaging in free union and trial marriages — a stance that the CHR believes to discriminate against women, solo parents, and children born out of wedlock.
CHR reiterated that Assumption Iloilo’s viewpoint runs contrary to the Magna Carta for Women (Republic Act No. 9710).
“In including as well ‘trial marriage’ and ‘live in’ in the definition of immorality, and thus grounds for expulsion, the school also runs the risk of discriminating against women and young girls, including solo parents, or students who are born out of wedlock,” De Guia said.
“This could run counter to the provisions of the Magna Carta of Women prohibiting discrimination in educational institutions and the prohibition of dismissal on the basis of pregnancy. As it is in the best interest of the child to have education that is free from hate and discrimination, school policies and academic freedom should not come at the expense of the right to education and the child’s right to development,” she added.
Assumption Iloilo has released a statement insisting that its rules were grounded on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), a set of guidelines in teaching Catholics that was promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1992 to commemorate the anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.
“A reading of the definition readily shows that the definition of ‘immorality’ adopted by Assumption Iloilo refers to and is grounded on the [CCC]. Section 2358 of the CCC expressly provides that the homosexual condition ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity’,” Assumption said.
“There is no intent nor was there ever an intent to discriminate against homosexuals as represented in social media,” they added.
Statement Regarding the Charges of Discrimination against Homosexuality
CHR noted that such a mindset only showed the need to pass the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill, which aims to protect members of the LGBT community and other movements associated with it.
“CHR emphasizes that the SOGIE Equality bill seeks to address the crucial issues, such as differential treatment in the workplace and denial of admission or expulsion from educational institutions. With this measure, we will be able to fully protect the rights of persons with diverse SOGIESC,” De Guia said.
“For stigma thrives in institutionalized discriminatory policies, we urge Assumption Iloilo to retract and revisit their enrollment contract establishing homosexuality and other acts as grounds for expulsion. Discrimination does not have a place in educational institutions and more so in our society,” she added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.