MANILA—Several lawmakers linked to religious groups on Wednesday opposed a measure that seeks to protect members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community from discrimination.
Jesus Is Lord Movement leader turned CIBAC party-list Rep. Eddie Villanueva warned against the railroading of the proposed Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill in its current form.
"SOGIE bill... will not promote equality but will instead unduly give 'special' rights to some members of our society at the expense of the rights of the other members and to the detriment of the social order in our community," he said in a privilege speech.
This, after advocates of the SOGIE bill, which was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives in 2017, renewed the enactment of the measure following the harassment of trans woman Gretchen Custodio Diez inside a shopping mall in Quezon City.
Villanueva, the house speaker for good governance and moral transformation, claimed that the bill undermines the role of parents and threatens academic freedom.
He also alleged that the proposed law imperils freedom of speech and religion, saying it will penalize public speech deemed discriminatory to the LGBTQ community.
"What happens to a Christian like me, and to the majority of the people in this chamber, if we are to be threatened by punishment every time we share our Bible-based beliefs on matters of transgenders and homosexuals?" he said.
This prompted Villanueva to file House Resolution 270, calling for an inquiry into the Farmers Plaza mall incident.
Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido “Benny” Abante Jr., a pastor, also backed Villanueva.
"There is a big difference between being discriminating and being discriminatory. I am discriminating in my choice of food, my choice of clothes, my choice of standards, my choice of friends. But let me say this, I will never be discriminatory to any that would like to say what he wants to say or what he wants to do," he said.
Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza also expressed support for Villanueva.
Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman, the country's first transgender congresswoman, called on lawmakers to focus on the objective of the bill.
"Let us not be carried away by extrapolations or by fear nor by very far away scenarios from other countries, but rather focus on the essence and objective of the bill, which is simply to afford fellow Filipinos the same rights, when it comes to work, to study, to receive services from the government and to access commercial and public establishments, not to be insulted in the streets and these Filipinos just happen to be members of the LGBT community," she said.
Various versions of the measure were refiled in the 18th Congress. But as a bill approved by the House of Representatives in the preceding Congress, the SOGIE Equality bill can theoretically avail of Section 48 of the House Rules of Procedure, which will allow it to breeze through committee deliberations.—Report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News