MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte and Malacañang's differing statements on the chief executive's stand on a measure seeking to protect the LGBT community from discrimination shows government's "policy confusion," Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Wednesday.
Duterte on Tuesday said he would certify as urgent the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill, adding that he would do whatever would make the LGBT community happy.
A day later, his spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the President was referring to a measure seeking to ban “all forms” of discrimination in the country.
"President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that he plans to certify as urgent the SOGIE Equality Bill, only to be corrected by his spokesperson that the President was referring to an Anti-Discrimination Bill, shows Malacañang's policy confusion regarding how to address discrimination against the LGBT community," Hontiveros said in a statement.
She asserted that the SOGIE Equality bill remains the "best policy tool" to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination.
"This protective mechanism is unique to LGBTs who experience not only discrimination but also stigma. We hope that President Duterte will seriously consider these points," she said in a statement.
"The LGBT community is not asking for special rights and privileges. Ang kanilang tanging hiling ay ituring sila ng pantay at mamuhay ng payapa na malaya sa diskriminasyon."
(They are only asking to be treated equally and to live peacefully and free from discrimination.)
Hontiveros, chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, said they would continue to move the measure forward.
"We will also work to ensure that provisions against discrimination on the basis of SOGIE are included in a comprehensive anti-discrimination measure. We will fight for equality on all fronts," he said.
The Senate started debates on the SOGIE Equality bill following the brief detention of a transgender woman who attempted to use the women's toilet at a Quezon City mall last month.
Conservative groups, including Christian denominations, oppose the measure, citing Biblical doctrine and alleging that it would be discriminatory against sectors outside the LGBT.