MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Thursday said a bill seeking to give the LGBT community more rights and protection under the law has yet to hurdle the committee level due to lack of signatures.
The committee report for the Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) bill has not received enough support from senators over a year since it was refiled in the chamber, said Hontiveros, who chairs the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.
"Although the SOGIE Equality Bill Committee Report still lacks signatures to report it out on the floor, it is never less important," she said in a tweet.
If passed into law, the SOGIE bill will entitle same-sex couples to rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples, including the right to civil union, and the right to jointly own property.
The proposal also imposes a fine of at least P100,000 and at least a year-long imprisonment for those who would discriminate persons based on their gender.
The measure cannot be tackled in plenary if majority of the members of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality refuse to sign the report for the SOGIE bill.
If the bill fails to hurdle the Senate before the 18th Congress ends in 2022, senators who are supporters of the LGBT community will have to refile the measure in the next Congress.
Five senators have authored anti-discrimination bills for the LGBT community.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III earlier said at least 15 lawmakers would vote against the passage of the measure.
"As a proud ally, I will not stop fighting for the passage of this bill. Respect must always be the norm," Hontiveros said.
"I am hopeful for the day that none of us have to convince people that we are worthy of our own basic human rights," she said.
Earlier this month, Sotto said Pope Francis' comment that same-sex couples should be covered by civil union laws would not change conservative senators' stand on the SOGIE bill.