SOGIESC-based anti-discrimination bill up for Senate plenary debates
MANILA, Philippines — A bill aimed to prohibit discrimination, marginalization, and violence committed on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characters (SOGIESC) has now reached the Senate floor for deliberations.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, chair of the chamber’s committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, endorsed for plenary approval Senate Bill No. 1934 or the proposed SOGIESC-based Anti-Discrimination Act.
“As we are about to close this challenging year, I am honored to present again to the plenary a piece of legislation, so dear to my heart. A bill which has become a battle cry of our younger generation searching for validation and acceptance,” Hontiveros said in her sponsorship speech.
“A long-standing plea of advocates and allies who have been begging these halls to listen and take a stand. A beacon of hope for Filipino parents who just wanted to see their children grow up without fear of stigma and discrimination,” she added.
Under the proposed legislation, promoting or encouraging stigma on the basis of SOGIESC in the media, education textbooks, and other mediums, as well as inciting violence and sexual abuse against any person or group based on SOGIESC is outlawed.
It also considers the inclusion of an individual’s SOGIESC in the criteria for hiring, promotion, work assignment, and dismissal, among other actions in workplaces, as a violation.
Denying a person access to or use of public or private establishments, facilities, utilities, or services based on SOGIESC is likewise considered a violation, and thus, prohibited under the bill.
Further, it proscribes preventing a child under parental authority, custody, or guardianship from exhibiting or expressing one’s SOGIESC, or manifesting rejection of such child’s SOGIESC by inflicting or threatening to inflict harm against the child or by causing mental or emotional suffering.
If enacted into law, anyone who violates the provisions under the bill will be fined not less than P500,000 but not more than P1 million at the discretion of the court, which is also authorized to impose community service through attendance in human rights and SOGIESC education, among others.
“Mahaba na ang pinagdaanan ng Anti-Discrimination based on SOGIESC bill. Mula pa 11th Congress ang panukalang batas na ito. At nasagot na nang higit dalawang dekada ng pakikibaka ang halos lahat ng agam-agam natin tungkol dito: Humihingi ba ito ng special rights?” Hontiveros went on.
(The Anti-Discrimination based on SOGIESC bill has gone through a long process. A bill has been proposed since the 11th Congress. And the question ‘Is this bill asking for special rights?’ has been answered.)
“Lahat ng tao ay may sexual orientation at gender identity or expression. Lahat tayo ay kasamang mapoprotektahan nang batas na ito. Ang sinasabi lang natin, straight ka mang lalake o babae, bakla, lesbyana, bisexual, transgender o queer, lahat tayo ay may ambag sa lipunan, lahat tayo pantay-pantay,” she added.
(Everyone has sexual orientation at gender identity or expression. Every single one of us will be protected by this bill. What we’re just proposing is that whether you are a straight man or women, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer, every one has a role in society, all of us are equal.)
Hontiveros said that the challenge of the 18th Congress is to be an “ally” of the LGBTIQA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and asexual) community.
“As allies, we should be giving spaces and opportunities for the members of the LGBTIQA community, making sure they are represented in all aspects of civic life,” she also said.
“As allies, we should be lifting up their voices making sure they are heard, loud and clear. As allies, we should stand up, alongside them, in the fight for their basic rights. As allies, we should listen, understand, and accept,” she added.
The senator also thanked her colleagues who signed the committee report on the bill, namely Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and Senators Nancy Binay, Leila de Lima, Imee Marcos, and Grace Poe.
“Thank you for choosing to be allies,” she said.
“My dear colleagues, let us rise up to the challenge. May the 18th Congress be the Congress that would finally put this bill into a vote. May we be known as the legislators-allies who stood up against discrimination and fought for equality,” she added.
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