MANILA - Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill advocate Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Monday said her proposed measure has enough supporters in the upper chamber, but Senate President Vicente Sotto III believes otherwise.
Groups and personalities from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community gathered at an event titled “Humanizing SOGIE” at the Senate on Monday to drum up support for the SOGIE Equality Bill.
As they held the event, a large group also massed up outside the Senate compound to voice their opposition to the proposed bill.
The two gatherings became a showdown of sorts and a prelude to the fierce battle in the upper chamber involving the bill.
Sotto, who is opposed to Hontiveros’ bill, said at least 15 senators have already declared they would not support the SOGIE Equality Bill.
“We have studied this proposition already, there is no need for it. It is a redundancy. All Filipinos and everyone in the Philippines are equally protected by equal rights and all the rights that are given any individual in the Philippines. There are enough laws that cover the particular issues that they are talking about,” Sotto said in a press briefing.
Sotto also took a swipe at the transgender community anew, claiming the term does not appear in the dictionary.
“Hindi ko maintindihan kung paano nila nabaluktot yun, na gamitin yun, na naging transgender ang paggamit, yung trans woman, trans man, ikinalulungkot ko, pero hanap ako ng hanap sa dictionary, walang word na trans woman. Lahat ng dictionary hinanap ko, wala. Wala ring trans man. So, saan galing? In other words, nagdeviate nang masyado,” he claimed.
OxfordDictionaries.com defines transgender as "denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex."
Merriam-webster.com, meanwhile, defines a trans woman as "a woman who was identified as male at birth", and trans man as "a man who was identified as female at birth".
Asked to react on Sotto’s claims, Hontiveros dared his fellow senators to finally bring the proposed measure to a vote.
“Kung sinasabi po na may majority na laban sa SOGIE Equality Bill, edi dalhin na natin sa botohan, there’s no need, no reason para patagalin pa yung interpellation dito,” Hontiveros told reporters.
“Tapusin na rin natin yung period of amendments at pagbotohan na natin para masabi natin sa ating publiko kung ano yung fact ng pag-suporta o di suporta ano sense of the Senate dito sa SOGIE Equality Bill. “
Hontiveros said based on her conversations with her fellow senators, “we have a strong fighting chance with this SOGIE Equality Bill.”
“I believe lahat kami ay sumusuporta din, na kulang pa yung mga batas para protektahan ang bawa’t Pilipino, lalo immediately yung LGBTQ+ community, laban sa diskriminasyon,” she said.
“Kulang pa ang ating mga batas para sabihin na bawa’t Pilipino, anuman ang ating SOGIE, ay pantay pantay sa ilalim ng batas. This SOGIE Equality Bill will fill the real need of ating mga Pilipino.”
Sotto said he is more amenable to the Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill filed by Sen. Sonny Anagara, which seeks to prohibit a wide range of discriminatory acts.
The Palace said President Rodrigo Duterte would also support a more general anti-discrimination bill, not the SOGIE Equality Bill.