MANILA, Philippines — The lack of certainty as to when the Senate will pass the bill seeking to outlaw discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (Sogie) has dismayed Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman — prime mover of the proposed measure in the House of Representatives.
Roman, the nation’s first transwoman representative, sounded the alarm over the “slow progress” of the Sogie Equality bill in the Senate even as the chamber approved at least 17 other proposed laws in its second and third reading during the last week of session before the Holy Week break.
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“It is sad that there is still no certainty as to when the Senate version of the Sogie Equality bill will be passed,” she said in a statement.
In December 2022, the Senate committees on women, children, family relations and gender equality, and finance filed their report on the proposed Sogie Act, but it was not delevated to the plenary for second reading.
Months later, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva–carrying a pile of letters from religious groups that claimed they were not consulted about the proposed measure–sought to refer the bill to the chamber’s powerful rules panel, which he chairs.
The committee was set to hold its first closed-door hearing on the bill on Thursday, according to the Senate committee schedule, but it was canceled early in the morning.
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Meanwhile, the senator’s father – Cibac Rep. Eddie Villanueva – had previously disrupted a House women and gender equality panel hearing on the bill, accusing it of being illegal for supposed forum shopping.
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“Currently, there are indications that the senator and his father, Cibac Partylist Representative Eddie Villanueva, will work together to delay the passage of the proposed legislation,” Roman said.
Despite this, the bill is seemingly advancing at the lower house since it is now being handled and deliberated upon by a technical working group.
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It has been 23 years since the first version of the Sogie Equality bill was filed in the Philippine Congress.
Despite the decades-long delay, Roman remains optimistic that the proposed measure would gain momentum with sufficient backing from both chambers of Congress.