MANILA - Sen. Sonny Angara has filed a bill seeking to ban “all forms” of discrimination in the country.
This, amid calls for the passage of an LGBT equality bill in light of an incident where a transgender woman ended up detained after using the women's toilet at a Quezon City mall on Tuesday.
Angara’s Senate Bill No. 137 lists 13 “acts of discrimination” that covers a broad spectrum of actions and the consequences of these on the affected parties.
“Discrimination is a problem that is not confined to a few people alone. It concerns everyone. No one should feel helpless when faced with discrimination. We appeal to our colleagues to support this bill,” Angara said in a statement.
The bill seeks to prohibit discrimination based on age, racial or ethnic origin, religious belief, political inclination or conviction, social class, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expressions, marital or relationship status, disability, HIV status, health status or medical history, language, physical features or other status.
According to the proposed measure, it is unlawful for someone to inflict stigma, deny political, civic, and cultural rights, and deny an individual the right to education, right to work, access to goods and services, right to organize, and right to expression based on his or her status.
It also seeks to prohibit inflicting harm on one’s health or well-being, engaging in profiling, and inciting hatred or violence.
Under the proposed measure, it is also unlawful to detain and confine a person based on their status. Abuses by state and non-state actors against persons based on their status are also prohibited.
It prescribes a penalty of 1 to 6 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to P500,000 for any person found to have committed acts of discrimination.
SOGIE EQUALITY BILL
Angara pushed for the proposed measure in the wake of the detention of 28-year-old transgender woman Gretchen Custodio Diez.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, a staunch advocate of LGBT rights, said Diez’s detention underscores the need to pass the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill.
“Panahon na para sabihin na hindi tayo papayag na may LGBTQI na poposasan, sasampalin, aalipustahin dahil sa kanilang kasarian. It is time that we say we will stand by those who speak their truths,” Hontiveros said in a privilege speech on Wednesday.
(It is time we say that we don’t allow members of the LGBTQI community to get handcuffed, slapped, or insulted because of their sexual orientation. It is time that we say we will stand by those who speak their truths.)
Sen. Imee Marcos, who also considers herself an LGBT rights advocate, said she would support the passage of the SOGIE Equality bill.
Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, a long-time aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, also expressed support for the bill.
“It is our moral obligation to safeguard a culture of acceptance and inclusivity to ensure our children and generations of Filipinos to come will live in a nation where they feel loved, cared for and accepted,” Go said in a manifestation.
Senators Panfilo Lacson, Aquilino Pimentel III and Ronald Dela Rosa, meanwhile, raised concerns that a move to allow transgender people to use bathrooms designated for the opposite sex might be exploited by voyeurs.
Dela Rosa, nonetheless, said he supports any bill that would prohibit discrimination.
Hontiveros noted that male voyeurs who had been caught inside female restrooms did not even bother to wear women’s clothes.
She added this could be solved by putting up gender-neutral restrooms which she said are already present in some establishments.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he also supports the SOGIE Equality Bill and that it was time to discuss the proposed measure on the floor.
“I am inclined to support it… Like in death penalty and divorce [bills], the senators will exercise conscience vote on the matter,” Zubiri told reporters Thursday.