House panel drops intersex from definition of sex in proposed anti-discrimination law

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2021 06:32 PM

MANILA — Members of a House panel on Tuesday argued whether to include "intersex" from its definition of sex in the proposed comprehensive anti-discrimination bill, but a conservative solon rejected and insisted to keep the terminology "simple."

The proposed law aims to eliminate discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE), age, racial or ethnic origin, religious belief or activity, political inclination or conviction, and social class.”

The House Committee on Human Rights was going over the bill’s definition of terms when UP College of Law professor Leo Battad, a resource person in the hearing, suggested a definition for the term "sex."

"We would rather that the definition sex refers to the civil status of a person acquired by birth, having a system of reproduction corresponding to that male, female or intersex. This has reference to the provision House Bill 7754 this definition is inclusive and encompasses intersex persons.”

But Deputy Speaker Bienvenido Abante objected to the inclusion of "intersex" in the definition of "sex."

"I think we can make it more simple than complicated... Sex refers to the differences between men and women that are universal and usually determined at birth that is already a complete definition... Why do we still have to muddle the definition of sex. That is too much already," Abante said. 

Merriam Webster Online defines intersex or intersexuality as the condition of either having both male and female gonadal tissue in one individual or of having the gonads of one sex and external genitalia that is of the other sex or is ambiguous.

Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman refuted Abante. 

"I think it is about time to open the eyes of the public to the scientific truth that there are people who are born intersex that is with the gonads of both men and women... These people are human beings," Roman said. 

Quezon City Rep. Jesus Suntay then suggested a "compromise."

"Ang kaniyang compromise 'yung intersex isasama na lang natin sa definition ng sex characteristic pero yung definition ng sex we’ll retain it as it is (male and female)," Suntay said. 

Battad, however, wanted intersex included in the definition of sex, after male and female. 

"We would rather to the first proposal of Rep. Roman to include intersex in sex so that our proposal is sex refers to the biological differences between and among men, women and intersex because intersex is a sex. Sex characteristics only describes them."

Abante then seconded Suntay that intersex should be included in a separate terminology.

"I would agree with Cong. Roman if there would be another provision for intersex."

Meantime, voting 13-1, the panel retained "gender identity" under its protections from discrimination despite Abante’s reservations.

The panel hearing is still ongoing.


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