MANILA - Victims of gender discrimination on Tuesday shared their experiences to senators, urging them to pass the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill.
Roy Galpo, in a Senate committee hearing on the SOGIE Bill, urged lawmakers to "just be equal" in helping members of the LGBTQ+ community.
"I hope you could help us. Just be equal, it doesn’t matter how you call us, homo sapiens. I don’t care. We’re all human," she said, referring to the remark of Senate President Tito Sotto on gender identities.
During the hearing, Galpo recounted how she was shamed by a human resources officer for using the ladies restroom inside a call center in 2016.
She said she approached the labor department and the National Labor Relations Commission for help but her case did not receive attention. She also approached the Commission on Human Rights and said she was having suicidal thoughts.
"Sabi ko nagsasawa na ko. I want to end my life na. Nagkaroon na ko ng severe urinary tract infection, parang di ko na kaya lumabas ng bahay namin," she said.
"I just want to have equal rights. Tapos na ko sa trauma and pain, sawa na ko 3 taon na eh. Kaya lang walang talagang nangyayari. I want everyone to know, sinuman ang mabastos ng isang transgder sa isang CR ako po ang hihingi ng tawad kasi wala naman po talagang intensyon na may mangyari masama 'yung tao eh."
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, also apologized to Galpo after security was called when she accessed the female restroom at the chamber.
"I’m deeply sorry for this incident. I’m so embarrassed. This has happened before noong HIV hearing sa Senado. On behalf po ng aming komite, humihingi po ako ng paumanhin sa inyo," she said.
Galpo brushed off the incident and said the Senate has "more important things to handle."
"This incident, bathroom discrimination, happens each and every time I walk into a lavatory. I’m used to it. It doesn’t matter to me anymore," she said. "There are much more issues the Senate needs to fix."
Deg Daupan, another victim of discrimination, said it was important to understand SOGIE and sex characteristics.
"Discrimination goes beyond bathroom, home, school, workplace. This is the reason why I believe we cannot streamline the label of homo sapiens," Daupan said.
"Kailangan intindihin natin ang SOGIE ng bawat isa. Kaya nangyayari itong discrimination dahil hindi malalim ang pag-unawa natin."
Daupan said he experienced discrimination at a job interview where he was asked repeatedly to rate "how gay" he was on a scale of 1 to 10.
"It made me nervous, will this affect my chance of getting the job?" he said.
Daupan said he left the interview and filed a case at the company, which conducted an internal hearing.