MANILA - Women might experience sexual harassment if transgender women are allowed to share their comfort rooms, Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa said Tuesday, as lawmakers tackled a proposed law prohibiting gender-based discrimination.
Straight men could pretend to be transgender, enter a female comfort room and harass women there, said Dela Rosa, a former national police chief who said he backs gay marriage.
"What if isang lalaking manyak, magsuot ng pambabae, mag-pretend to be a bakla, papasok doon sa CR, pwede syang mangharass," said Dela Rosa.
"Are our sisters and daughters safe doon sa (there in) bathroom?" he added during a Senate hearing on a proposed bill.
"May anak din akong babae, mamaya mangyari iyan sa anak kong babae, bosohan sa CR," he said.
(I also have a daughter. That could happen to my daughter, someone might look in on her.)
There are no proven cases of transgender women harassing females in shared comfort rooms in the Philippines, said Naomi Fontanas, president of LGBT group Ganda Filipinas.
Studies show that most victims of sexual abuse personally know their aggressors, said Fontanas. "Stranger-to-stranger violence is very rare all over the world," she added.
Sexual violence, she added, "can happen anywhere" and "can be addressed by existing laws."
"It does not mean that because there's sexual violence, we don't have to pass the SOGIE Equality bill and protect members of the LGBTIQ from discrimination," she said.
The SOGIE or Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression bill prohibits stigmatizing the LGBT in media and denying a person access to an institution, service or establishment based on gender, among others.
If passed into law, SOGIE can increase security in restrooms because establishments would be mandated to assign personnel there, said Gretchen Diez, a trans woman who was briefly detained after trying to use a female restroom earlier this month.