MANILA - Bills protecting the LGBT community from hate crimes and prejudice "imperils freedoms of speech and religion", evangelist-turned-lawmaker Eddie Villanueva said Wednesday.
Anyone may be held criminally liable for public speeches deemed discriminatory by the LGBT community, under 8 of the 13 SOGIE or Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression bills in the House of Representatives, said Villanueva, leader of the Jesus Is Lord Movement.
"It imperils freedoms of speech and religion... What happens to a Christian like me and to the majority of people in this august chamber if we are to be threatened with punishment every time we share our Bible-based beliefs on matters of transgenders and homosexuals?" Villanueva, representative of CIBAC party-list, said in a privilege speech.
"We respect the lives they (LGBT) choose to lead, but to make us conform to their lifestyle with the threat of punishment under our necks if we do not, is in itself a violation of our own rights," he added.
The SOGIE bills also require parents to secure a family court order if they want their children to take medical or psychological examinations related to their gender identity. This, he said, "undermines the role of parents" as the "chief guardians" of their children.
"Since when has it become our official policy to give the government more authority to decide for our children's lives and futures?" he said.
Villanueva also claimed that SOGIE "threatens academic freedom" by prohibiting schools from denying educational access to a student based on his or her sexuality.
"What if an all-boys school refuses a trans man? Despite having exemplary grades, the trans man is disqualified only because she is still genetically a woman and is unfit to join the school. What if a Catholic school expels a trans woman who insists on cross dressing despite getting a ton of warnings?" he said.
"Educational institutions espouse practices and rules that are consistent with their school philosophies and principles," he added.
Lastly, SOGIE "puts into question the very foundation of our laws," said Villanueva.
Fundamental rights, he said, are "already enshrined in our existing laws" and their violation of "will be penalized accordingly."
"To enact another law that upholds one sector's perceived rights over the rights of other people who do not belong to that sector is simply unfair, isn't it? In fact, equally discriminatory, it will be a law of preferential rights, a class legislation," said Villanueva.
"A person may be considered guilty based on the feelings of the aggrieved party. From 'you are innocent until proven guilty', it becomes 'you are guilty because I feel you are guilty,'" he added.
SOGIE prohibits stigmatizing the LGBT in media and denying a person access to an institution, service or establishment based on gender, among others.
In the previous 17th Congress, SOGIE languished in the Senate after the House of Representatives approved its counterpart measure.