Hontiveros calls out ‘sheer numbness’ in saying Sogie bill is not urgent
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday said it was “sheer numbness” to deem as not urgent the proposed measure penalizing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (Sogie).
Hontiveros, one of the main proponents of the Sogie bill in Congress, made the remark after Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said he sees no urgency in passing the Sogie bill.
“Bigyan natin ng hustisya ang ating mga kababayang hindi malayang nakakapamuhay dahil lang sa kasarian nila. Paulit-ulit sa balita ang mga mag-aaral na nabu-bully dahil sa kanilang Sogie, mga napagkakaitan ng serbisyong medikal, at hindi nakakakuha ng ganap na benepisyo sa trabaho dahil sa diskriminasyon,” the lawmaker said in a statement.
(Let’s give justice to our compatriots who cannot freely live their lives just because of their gender. We hear news about it over and over again – students who are bullied because of their Sogie, people being deprived of medical services, and those not getting their work benefits because of discrimination.)
Hontiveros pressed for the Sogie bill to undergo “proper legislative process” in accordance with the rules of the Senate.
“Iyong Maharlika bill nga na isang beses lang inihain sa Senado, na hindi naman kailangan sa ngayon, naipasa agad. Bakit iyong Sogie bill na napakatagal nang nandiyan, hinaharangan?” she asked.
(The Maharlika bill, which was only filed in the Senate once and is not needed now, was passed immediately. So why is the Sogie bill, which had been a proposal for so long, being blocked?)
It had been more than two decades since the first version of the Sogie bill saw light in Congress, but since then, it had made little headway.
During these years, Hontiveros said, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (LGBTQIA+) community was not receiving the protection they needed.
“Let us not forget that they are our fellow human beings and citizens, too,” she said.
‘Discrimination is pure evil’
Villanueva slammed the seeming vilification of his position on the issue.
“I love the LGBT community. [I] am super close to Paul Cabral, Boy Abunda. I’m super proud that Alex Carbonell has been my hairdresser for so many, many years! And for some individuals and other media outlets to continue painting me as anti-LGBT is more than preposterous,” he said in a message to reporters.
Villanueva further said: “Who wants to be discriminated [against]? Discrimination is pure evil! So let’s extend this right against discrimination to all sectors.”
The senator said he may “sound like a broken record” as he reiterated not being against equal protection for every person.
“That’s why we’re pushing for a holistic and inclusive anti-discrimination bill,” he added.
Villanueva then cited a Filipino proverb, “Ang naglalakad ng matulin, kung matinik ay malalim.”
This means moving hastily could be unwise as it could lead to graver consequences.
Villanueva also quoted a Bible verse from Proverbs, which states: “He who guards his mouth preserves his life. But he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.”
Sogie bill in 19th Congress
The Sogie bill had already been approved by the Hontiveros-led Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality in 2022.
The next step for the bill would have been to have it sponsored on the Senate floor, but it was instead re-referred to the rules panel, headed by Villanueva.
Meanwhile, the Sogie bill is inching forward in the lower chamber after it secured the approval of the House women and gender equality panel in May.