Senators press for equality bill's passage in wake of trans woman’s detention

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2019 07:00 PM

MANILA - Several senators on Wednesday aired support for the passage of a bill seeking protection for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community from discrimination in the wake of the detention of a transgender woman for using a female comfort room.

Gretchen Custodio Diez, 28, was detained by police in Quezon City on Tuesday afternoon after a scuffle with a mall personnel for using the female comfort room.

Diez was released later that night after the mall's management dropped the unjust vexation complaint against her.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, a staunch advocate of LGBT rights in the chamber, said Diez’s detention underscores the need to pass the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill.

“Panahon na para sabihin na hindi tayo papayag na may LGBTQI na poposasan, sasampalin, aalipustahin dahil sa kanilang kasarian. It is time that we say we will stand by those who speak their truths,” Hontiveros said in a privilege speech.

(It is time we say that we won’t allow members of the LGBTQI community to get handcuffed, slapped, or insulted because of their sexual orientation. It is time that we say we will stand by those who speak their truths.)

Diez, a human resource director of a call center company, told ABS-CBN News she was barred by a janitress from using the women's comfort room.

She called out the alleged discrimination and recorded the incident on Facebook, which irked the janitress. She was then dragged to the mall's security office.

Sen. Imee Marcos, who also considers herself an LGBT rights advocate, said she would support the passage of the SOGIE Equality bill.

Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, a long-time aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, also expressed support for the bill.

“It is our moral obligation to safeguard a culture of acceptance and inclusivity to ensure our children and generations of Filipinos to come will live in a nation where they feel loved, cared for and accepted,” Go said in a manifestation.

Meanwhile, detained Sen. Leila de Lima said Tuesday’s incident would happen again unless the public is educated about LGBT rights.

“Let’s all rally to support the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill and let's work together in putting an end to any form of discrimination against the LGBT community,” she said.

Senators Panfilo Lacson and Aquilino Pimentel III, meanwhile, raised concerns that a move to allow transgender people to use bathrooms designated for the opposite sex might be exploited by voyeurs.

Hontiveros noted that male voyeurs who had been caught inside female restrooms did not even bother to wear women’s clothes.

She added this could be solved by putting up gender-neutral restrooms which she said are already present in some establishments.