Rep. Roman upbeat: Sogie bill approval imminent despite delay
MANILA, Philippines —Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman believes Congress will pass the sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (Sogie) bill, which has been stalled for over two decades.
Roman, the nation’s first transwoman representative, believes the Sogie Equality bill will gain momentum with Senate and House backing.
“I believe malaki ang puso ng aking mga kasamahan sa Kongreso. Kaya natin ipasa ito [I believe that the members of Congress have a big heart. We can pass this],” she said in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
Roman cited 19 among the 24 senators, who have expressed support for the Sogie Equality bill, as well as the commitment of the Senate leadership to advance the proposed measure in the upper chamber.
“And we will not allow whatever delaying tactics there may be to prosper because it is so unbecoming. It is, for me, a betrayal. It’s like turning our backs on the mandate that we have from the people. Everyone has to be listened to. And everyone has to be protected,” she said.
Roman further lamented: “Nakakabobo eh. Huwag naman ganoon. Nakakainsulto sa taumbayan iyong ganiyang paraan. Matatalino naman ang ating mga senador at naniniwala ako na they are capable of tackling this controversial bill.”
(It makes one seem stupid. Let’s not have it that way. It’s an insult to the people for us to act this way. Our senators are smart, and I believe they are capable of tackling this controversial bill.)
While she acknowledged the controversial nature of the Sogie Equality bill, Roman said other measures like the Reproductive Health law, among others, were passed in the past despite the issues that may have hounded it.
Sogie bill in the House
The lawmaker also expressed confidence that the Sogie Equality bill will secure the approval of the House, noting that many congressmen–especially those hailing from the younger generations–are willing to fight for the measure.
“Ang dami daming lumalapit sa akin pero quiet sila. Kasi ganyan magtrabaho rin ang mga congressmen. Simplehan lang pero sumusuporta,” she said.
(Many of them are coming up to me, but they do so quietly. That’s how our congressmen work–simple but supportive.)
Many House lawmakers, she said, recognize the discrimination the LGBTQI+ community face in their day-to-day lives.
“Bilang mga representative ng aming mga distrito, pilit naming tinutugunan ito. Manhid na lang iyong representative na hindi kikilala sa ganitong sitwasyon […] Pinaguusapan na natin dito ang human dignity,” she argued.
(As district representatives, we are trying to address this. Any representative who does not recognize these situations are numb to the reality […] We’re talking about human dignity here.)
To recall, Cibac Party Rep. Eduardo “Eddie” Villanueva–founder of the Jesus is Lord movement–on Wednesday disrupted the hearing of the House committee on women and gender equality on eight Sogie Equality bills as he deemed it “illegal” for being tantamount to forum shopping.
But according to Roman, Villanueva was in no position to do so since they had already secured the go-ahead and the schedule to proceed with the hearing.
“As far as I’m concerned, as the chairperson of the committee on women and gender equality, I already had the clearance to hold that meeting and to tackle the Sogie Equality bill. He was barking at the wrong tree,” she defended.
‘Walk the talk’
Roman called on lawmakers to be transparent about their stance on the Sogie Equality bill instead of throwing out empty words of love for the LGBTQI+ community.
“For me, it constitutes hypocrisy. Magpakatotoo na lang tayo. If you really feel na kaming LGBT, we do not deserve our rights in the hopes na baka sakaling magbago kami dahil nahihirapan kami sa buhay namin dahil hindi kami nabibigyan ng pagkakataong magtrabaho o mag-aral o tumanggap ng serbisyo sa pamahalaan, sabihin niyo. Huwag na tayo magpanggap. Magpakatotoo nalang tayo. Walk the talk. Show the love,” she said.
(If you really feel that the LGBT do not deserve rights in the hopes that we’ll change when we are subjected to life challenges because we’re not afforded opportunities to work, go to school, and be provided government services, say it. Don’t pretend. Let’s be real. Walk the talk. Show the love.)
Roman urged Congress to not be behind the times in legislating “to protect the welfare of all Filipinos.”
“You cannot say ‘I love you, but I do not recognize that you have legal rights.’ That cannot be. That’s not love. That’s not friendship,” she added.
While Villanueva stirred chaos in the House panel discussions on the Sogie Equality bill, his son–Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva–worked to refer the Senate counterpart of the proposed measure to the chamber’s rules committee, which he chairs, citing letters from religious groups that claimed they had not been consulted about the bill.
This sparked condemnation from various groups pushing for the recognition of LGBTQI+ rights like the University of the Philippines Babaylan, who called the delayed passage of the Sogie Equality bill a “blatant attack” on the rights of all Filipinos.
The Sogie Equality bill seeks to penalize any form of discrimination on the basis of one’s Sogie, which every individual has and is not limited to members of the LGBTQI+ community.