SC suspends judge for uttering homophobic slurs in court
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) has suspended a Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) in Manila for uttering homophobic slurs in court.
An 18-page decision, the high court suspended MeTC Judge Jorge Emmanuel Lorredo of Manila MeTC Branch 26 for 30 days. The judge was also fined P50,000 for simple misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a judge.
The case stemmed from the 2019 complaint filed by litigants Marcelino Espejon and Erickson Cabonita against Lorredo alleging that during a preliminary conference, the judge “showed bias and partiality” against their sexual orientation by asking them if they are homosexual and telling them that it is a sin.
Espejon and Cabonita are parties to a case of unlawful detainer. An unlawful detainer case is filed when one unlawfully withholds possession of real property despite the expiration or termination of any contract.
Complainants said that during the preliminary conference, the judge showed bias and partiality against homosexuals.
Some of the utterances cited by the Supreme Court include: “xxx pagka-bading, tomboy, lesbian, ayaw ng Diyos yun xxx (Gays, lesbians, God doesn’t like that).” “So pag meron kang lesbian relationship, paparusahan yung anak mo. Dengvaxia, di ba? [Kayo din] kasi may may kasalanan kayo sa Diyos eh (If you have a lesbian relationship, your child will be punished, Dengvaxia, right? Because you have sinned against God).”
In the ruling penned by Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, the high court said such remarks are homophobic slurs, “which have no place in our courts of law.”
“The fact that they were made by no less than a magistrate should rightfully upset the Court and must perforce be penalized… It should come as a matter of course for all judges to desist from any word or conduct that would show or suggest anything other than inclusivity for members of the LGBTQIA+community,” the SC said.
For making such statements, the court said the judge violated the New Code of Judicial Conduct which imposes on judges the duty to ensure equal treatment of all before the courts and to understand diversity arising from race, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, and social and economic status, among others.
The SC added that the judge himself admitted to being able to settle 101 cases using the Bible.
The SC said as the visible representations of the judicial branch at the grassroots level, judges must avoid impropriety or any appearance of impropriety.
The SC added that judges’ actions should always be seen by the public as guided by the law and not by personal or religious beliefs to avoid the perception of “displays of religiosity as encroachment or interference with our system of justice.”
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