MANILA - The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved on second reading a measure that aims to protect the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.
House Bill No. 4982 or the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression Equality (SOGIE) bill moved closer to passage at the chamber, a development that its principal author called a triumph of equality.
"Kapag tuluyan nang naisabatas ito, matitiyak nating maipagtatanggol natin ang batayang mga karapatan ng bawat tao, anuman ang kanyang sexual orientation o gender identity at expression," said Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao.
Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, a transgender woman, meanwhile called for unity, saying:"Together, we win our battles."
Akbayan Partylist also hailed the passage of the bill as another step towards the long overdue recognition of the LGBTQI+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, and intersex) community.
Its member in the Senate, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, has a similar bill currently on first reading at the chamber.
"Now more than ever, we look forward to the day that the rights and freedoms of the LGBTQI+ community are protected by law. This brings us closer to a Filipino society that sees other people as fellow people-- no matter what they wear, where they go, and whom they love," the sectoral group said.
The House bill prohibits and penalizes discriminatory acts by a fine not less than P100,000 and not more than P500,000, or imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years, or both.
The bill mandates existing women's desks in police stations to be renamed as Women, Children, and LGBTQ++ Protection Desks, to attend to complaints.
The measure also orders establishments to make available their existing toilets with facilities designated for persons with disabilities as gender-neutral toilets.