House panel approves SOGIESC bill

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 24 2023 12:38 AM | Updated as of May 31 2023 07:12 PM

MANILA - Progressive lawmakers announced that the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality has approved a substitute bill for a Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, or Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Equality Bill.

"We, in the Gabriela Women's Party, laud the committee approval of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, or Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Equality Bill. This is a step towards the long-overdue enactment of a legislation which will prohibit all forms of discimination and harassment against the LGBTQIA+ community," Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas said in a statement.

"Naninindigan kami na karapatan ng bawat miyembro ng LGBTQIA+ na makatamasa ng pantay na karapatan sa edukasyon, trabaho, serbisyong kalusugan, at iba pa ng walang takot at pangamba. Taliwas sa sinasabi ng mga kritiko, ang SOGIESC Equality Bill ay hindi sagka sa kagustuhan natin na magkaroon ng pagkakapantay-pantay sa ating lipunan, bagkus, ito ay isang malaking ambag sa ating adhikain na isulong ang karapatan ng bawat Pilipino ano man ang kasarian," Brosas also said.

"Bagama't maraming nagtangkang tutulan at idiscredit ang panukalang ito, hindi tinigilan ng mga authors natin ang pagtulak ng mga panawagan ng mga mamamayan nating LGBTQ++ para sa isang bansang hindi nagdidiscriminate batay lamang sa iyong SOGIESC," Rep. Raoul Manuel said in a statement.

"Lahat ng tao may SOGIESC, kaya lahat tayo ay may pakinabang sa panukalang batas na ito. There are no losers with this policy, so we urge the House leadership to expedite the passage of this measure and support the efforts of authors of similar measures in the Senate," Manuel also said.

Brosas released a copy of the approved bill to the media which stated that discrimination on the grounds of a person’s SOGIESC intersecting or compounded by other grounds and factors such as age, racial or ethnic origin, religious belief or activity, political inclination or conviction, social class, economic status, marital or relationship status, disability, HIV status, health status or medical history, language, physical features, or other status shall be considered a discriminatory practice.

Among others, the bill prohibits the following: 

  • Advertising, producing, and publishing in the media, in educational textbooks, and other medium that has the effect of promoting, encouraging and perpetuating stigma or inciting violence and sexual abuse against any person or group on the basis of SOGIESC
  • Denying access to public services to any person on the basis of SOGIESC
  • Including SOGIESC, as well as the disclosure of one’s SOGIESC, in the criteria for hiring, promotion, transfer, designation, work assignment, re-assignment, dismissal of workers, subcontracting and other human resource movement and action, performance review, and in the determination of employee compensation, access to career development opportunities, training, and other learning and development interventions, incentives, privileges, benefits or allowances, and other terms and conditions of employment

It also prohibits refusing admission or expelling a person from any educational or training institution, such as police and military academies or training institutions, on the basis of SOGIESC. 

This includes discriminating against a student or trainee due to the SOGIESC of the student’s parents or guardian, court-appointed or otherwise.

It also bans Imposing disciplinary sanctions, penalties harsher than customary or similar punishments, requirements, restrictions or prohibitions that infringe on the rights of the students on the basis of SOGIESC, including discriminating against a student or trainee due to the SOGIESC of the student’s parents or guardian, court-appointed or otherwise.

  • Denying a person access to public or private medical and other health services open to the general public on the basis of such person's SOGIESC, as well as access to public and private health insurance, including HMOs, on the basis of SOGIESC: Provided, That this shall not authorize an order to any institution or person to perform gender affirming surgeries or other similar procedures
  • Denying an application for or revoking a professional or other similar kind of license, clearance, certification on, or any other similar document, except marriage license, issued by the government due to the applicant's SOGIESC
  • Denying a person access to or the use of establishments, facilities, utilities, or services, including housing, open to the general public on the basis of SOGIESC
  • Subjecting or forcing any person to undertake any medical or psychological examination to determine or alter, or both, the person's SOGIESC without the express approval of the person involved, except in cases where the person involved is a minor.

It also bans harassment, coercion, or threats committed on the basis of one’s SOGIESC by those involved in the enforcement of law, regulations or directives, and the protection of rights of any person, whether they belong to the public or private sector.

It also prohibits publishing information intended to “out” or reveal the sex or SOGIESC of persons without their consent, whether or not done in good faith, when such has not been made known by the person/s concerned and has been made with malicious intent or is primarily motivated by a desire for commercial profit

  • Engaging in public speech, except religious speech or comments made in the context of a religious service, ceremony or activity, meant to shame, insult, vilify, or which tends to incite or normalize the commission of discriminatory practices against persons of diverse SOGIESC, and which acts or practices in turn, intimidate them or result in the loss of their self-esteem.

National LGBTQIA+ alliance Bahaghari welcomed the approval of the (SOGIESC) Equality Bill by the Committee on Women and Gender Equality in the Lower House.

"The House committee's approval of the SOGIESC bill is a step in the right direction, driven by the loud clamor of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. We urge our legislators in both chambers of Congress to continue towards this path and finally pass the two-decade-old bill," Clarice General, secretary-general of Bahaghari, said in a statement.

"On top of gender-related abuses and rights violations, LGBTQ+ people also face issues that burden the rest of the toiling masses. We, too, are students who are denied the right to accessible quality education and face the threat of militarization of our campuses. We, too, are workers denied livable wages, ample benefits, and security of tenure. We, too, have families who struggle to get by due to rising prices of commodities and services. We, too, are farmers afflicted by landlessness. The issues of LGBTQ+ people are issues we share with the rest of the Filipino masses," General declared.

The bill will be submitted to the whole House for approval.