AFP thumbs down SOGIE bill, says respect for LGBT need not ‘sacrifice rights of majority’
MANILA, Philippines — The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has rejected the proposed Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill, claiming that respect towards the LGBTQIA+ community may be given “without having to sacrifice the rights of the majority.”
In a position paper submitted to the House committee on women and gender equality, the AFP thumbed down the SOGIE bill, which seeks to prohibit discrimination towards the LGBTQIA+ community.
The AFP said provisions in the proposed measure is only a reiteration of various existing laws.
“The AFP does not subscribe to the passage of SOGIE Bill,” AFP said.
“The AFP, as a government institution, does not discriminate any person based on sex and gender… The AFP has existing laws, policies, and standard operating procedures and other pertinent documents that protect personnel from discrimination,” it added.
Further, AFP said it would be “unjust to grant special privilege to some persons at the expense of the basic rights of others.”
“Respect and compassion towards our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community may be given without having to sacrifice the rights of the majority,” armed forces said.
Moreover, AFP said its policies such as those concerning promotions and disciple “which seeks to provide true equality among individuals are threatened to be violated if SOGIE bill will be pursued” catering to specific individuals.
Several lawmakers, government officials, and religious leaders were invited to deliver their stand on the controversial measure.
Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman took up the cudgels for the LGBT sector, reminding her colleagues that “it is not our job to determine what is a sin or not.”
“As legislators, we know that our laws have to be based on the Constitution and not any particular holy book. It is not our duty to decide what is a sin or not. Hindi trabaho ng mambabatas ‘yan,” Roman said.
“We are aware that the Constitution alone does not suffice to promulgate itself as if it were a cure-all antidote and that it needs enabling laws that will establish the parameters of our dealings in society. And this is our job,” she added.
Roman pointed out that there are laws “aimed at protecting traditionally marginalized groups” like women, indigenous peoples, OFWs, and senior citizens, among others. However, there are no laws to protect citizens who are discriminated against on their basis of SOGIE.
“We are part of society and we also deserve protection under the law. We need your help and we, as legislators, must respond and not turn a blind eye,” Roman said.
Other lawmakers who expressed their support to the bill during the hearing include committee chairperson Rep. Malou Acosta-Alba, Rep. Kit Belmonte, Rep. Eufemia Cullamat, Rep. Carlos Zarate, Rep. Joy Tambunting, Rep. Alfred Vargas, and Rep. Arlene Brosas.
Meanwhile, Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante clarified that his refusal to be included as a co-author of the SOGIE Bill “do not, in any way, speak of denying the LGBTs their rights.”
“I might not agree with their lifestyle but I will defend their rights to express themselves with all the freedom that the Constitution provides. Nobody in this country is a second-class citizen,” Abante said.
In the 17th Congress, the House approved the SOGIE bill on final reading but its counterpart bill in the Senate only languished in the period of interpellation.