Transgender solon tears up in pushing for anti-discrimination bill
BATAAN Rep. Geraldine Roman, the first transgender representative in Congress, teared up as she recalled her experience of being discriminated in her bid to push for the passage of an anti-discrimination bill.
During the plenary session on Monday, Roman in her privilege speech, said she could not ignore the discrimination being suffered by the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
“As much as I would have wanted to focus my entire energy to serving the people of the 1st District of Bataan, in the tradition started by my father and continued by my mother, I cannot turn my back at a group of people, who have long suffered discrimination, and have long been denied adequate legal protection. How can I turn a blind eye to the suffering that I myself have experienced at some point in my life?” Roman said.
Her voice then trailed off and cracked as she pleaded to her colleagues to support the proposed legislation seeking to criminalize discrimination against the LGBT community.
“We are your brothers; we are your sisters; your sons and your daughters, and nieces and nephews. We are your family. We are your friends; your schoolmates; your colleagues at work… We are human beings,” Roman said, wiping her nose.
“We love our families. We love our country. We are proud Filipinos, who just happen to be LGBT. The question is: do we, as members of the LGBT community, share the same rights as all other citizens? Does the State grant us equal protection under our laws?” she added.
Roman lamented that there remains to be no references to LGBT in existing laws.
She added that there is no data on the violations of labor standards affecting LGBT employees.
Roman also said even the Supreme Court is confused in using LGBT and homosexuals interchangeably even though not all LGBT members are homosexuals.
Roman said only 164 cases of hate crime have been recorded since 1996 because there is no officer in the Department of Justice, Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation who would document and monitor hate crimes.
Roman said it is high time for the Philippines to have an anti-discrimination law.
“My dear brothers and sisters in the LGBT community, I want you to know that I am but one voice among many in this august chamber that says it is time. It is the time to pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. And the time is now!” Roman said.
Roman said her proposed legislation would prohibit the following forms of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity:
- If an employer, whether from the private or public sector, includes sexual orientation or gender identity in the criteria for hiring, promotion, transfer, designation, work assignment, re-assignment, dismissal, performance review, selection for training, in the computation of benefits, privileges and allowances
- If a school or any educational or training institution refuses to admit a student or participant or chooses to expel him or her solely on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity
- If a school imposes disciplinary sanctions, penalties, restrictions and requirements harsher than the usual that infringe on the rights of students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity
- When a student or a trainee is harassed, punished or restricted due to the sexual orientation or gender identity of his parents or legal guardians
Roman said the proposed measure would penalize violators with a jail term of one to six years, as well as a fine of no less than P100,000 to a maximum of P500,000.
Roman said the court may also sentence the guilty party to community service, and to undergo human rights education, including familiarization with and exposure to the plight of the victims.
Roman said the proposed measure would not legalize same-sex marriage, but would only grant equal rights and dignity to LGBT members.
She said the proposed measure garnered 130 co-authors already.
“Recognizing our rights and dignity will in no way diminish yours. We are not asking for special privileges or extra rights. We simply ask for equality. With inclusiveness and diversity, our nation has so much to gain,” Roman said.
Geraldine Roman is a member of a political scion in Bataan. She is the daughter of the late Rep. Tony Roman Jr. and former Rep. Herminia Roman.
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