LGBTQIA community lauds SOGIE city ordinances, seeks national legislation

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2022 01:51 PM | Updated as of Dec 09 2022 08:44 PM

LGBTQ senior high school students of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina wear their prefered uniform based on their gender identity on December 7, 2022. The Marikina City local government enacted an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2019, where no person at work, school, or community can be denied access tonbasic services based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
LGBTQ senior high school students of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina wear their prefered uniform based on their gender identity on December 7, 2022. The Marikina City local government enacted an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2019, where no person at work, school, or community can be denied access tonbasic services based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

The city government-run Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina prides itself for being an inclusive institution for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Plus or LGBTQIA plus individuals.

The rights of students to express their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression through their preferred uniforms, hairstyle and even the wearing of light make-up are respected by teachers and school officials.

“Masaya kasi welcoming po sila. Hindi kami kinukutya, ma-bully. Welcome na welcome po,” said a transman senior high school student.

“Since nung pumasok po ako last year dito, welcome po lahat ng all gender, how they express themselves tapos lahat ng teacher tinatanong nila kung what they want me to call, her, she, they,” said another student who is a transwoman.

But things are a little bit different as soon as they step out of their schools and their homes because bullying still exists in some of their circles.

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“Nung una po kasi, pagpasok sa school, natatakot po ako noon dahil sa hair ko, pero sana po in the future like yung medyo sarado pa ang pag-iisip nila sa LGBTQIA plus, sana po maging open po sila at matanggap kami kung ano kami, kung ano yung preference namin as LGBTQIA plus po,” said nursing student Ervina Bazuela.

Since 2019, Marikina City has been implementing Ordinance No. 065 or the Ordinance Implementing the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of Marikina City and Providing Penalties for Violation Thereof, one of the landmark local SOGIE ordinances in the country.

Among the prohibitions included in the ordinance are refusing employment to a job applicant and failing to accept a student because of their Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression.

Penalties include imprisonment of not less that 60 days and fine of not less that P1,000.

Trans student Karl Zyrish Catequista participates in class at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina on December 7, 2022. The Marikina City local government enacted an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2019, where no person at work, school, or community can be denied access to basic services based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Trans students participate in class at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina on December 7, 2022. The Marikina City local government enacted an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2019, where no person at work, school, or community can be denied access to basic services based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

"As early as 2016, 2017, yung iba nating establishments may all-inclusive toilets na. Yung mga paaralan, maski sa mga paaralan pinapayagan ang preference, expression nila sa pagsusuot ng damit pinapayagan natin kaya yung SOGIE bill parang afterthought na dahil yung pag-respeto natin sa indibidwal ay naroon na sa simula pa lamang,” said Marikina City Mayor Marcy Teodoro.

In the National Capital Region, Quezon City was the first to pass a SOGIE ordinance - Ordinance No. 2357 or An Ordinance Providing for a Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Policy on the Basis of Sexual Orientatin, Gender Identity and Expression.

Highlighted in the ordinance are prohibited acts of discrimination in employment, education, delivery of goods and services and accommodation, such as refusing persons to avail of services or accommodation in an apartment or condominium.

The city also takes pride in regularly hosting pride march events, having “Pride Officers” in barangays who take part in official activities.

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The city has also put up eight clinics where anti-HIV/AIDS medicines and services are provided to LGBTQIA plus individuals while a commitment ceremony is regularly held for couples every February, all to correct the discrimination felt by community members before the ordinance was passed.

“We believe that these were things that were very serious and that nobody should experience especially in Quezon City which prides itself for being the bastion of democracy, freedom and respect no, and so we decided to craft our gender fair ordinance which is our version of the SOGIE equality bill which has been languishing in Congress for so many years,” said Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte.

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According to data gathered by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, 11 out of 17 cities and municipality in NCR have existing SOGIE anti-discrimination ordinances - Quezon City, Marikina City, Malabon City, Manila, Mandaluyong City, Paranaque City, Pasay City, Pasig City, San Juan City, Taguig City, Valenzuela City.

Local ordinances resulted to better awareness of LGBTQIA plus rights in communities, according to the Philippine Financial and Inter-Industry Pride, a group which lobbies for LGBTQIA plus rights in workplaces.

“I will recognize the wins of these local ordinances because in the absence of a national legislation these kinda serve as guidance to companies - what they can do in their offices in that jurisdiction and the fact na limited lang iyan doon sa jurisdiction na iyan, it is also limited protection for the LGBT,” said PFIP Executive Director Jai Leonard Carinan.

PFIP said a survey they conducted recently showed 75% of companies already extend benefits to their LGBTQIA plus employees while 40% have gender neutral facilities.

But the survey was conducted with only 100 companies participating and according to the PFIP, they still receive complaints.

“We receive queries na based on their experiences in their company, on their promotion, nakaka-receive pa kami, a lot of it is around, use of facilities for instance like some workplaces do not allow them to use the facility of their gender identiy so may mga insidente pa rin na papalabasin ng security guard kakausapin ng HR (Human Resources Office),” Carinan said.

PFIP and other LGBTQIA plus individuals and allies insist that a national anti-discrimination legislation is still needed to cover the whole country especially cities and municipalities which do not have local ordinances.

The SOGIE bill at the Senate has been refiled this month and is now at the committee level, ready for plenary debates.

The proposed law has stiffer penalties than ordinances, with penalties of not less that P100,000 and imprisonment of up to 6 years.

“May hindi kukulang sa dalawampu’t dalawang local anti-discrimination ordinances sa ating bansa so ibig sabihin, nangunguna na ang ating mga LGUs, ika nga they are showing the way, they are pioneers at sana ay sumunod na rin humabol na rin ang Kongreso ng Republika,” Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.

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For newlywed same sex couple Patricia Chiu and April Pacifico, ordinances and laws protecting them from discrimination should be in place, although they already took it upon themselves to push for what they believe are their basic rights.

Aside from their commitment ceremony held in Tagaytay City last month, the two signed a special power of attorney for medical and end-of-life decisions.

“Even though nagkaroon kami ng ceremony ng kasal, under the law we are still two single people so within the existing framework gusto namin sanang to still protect each other, to still show somehow that we’ve decided to be one unit, one family,” Chiu said.

“Lalo na yung nagka-pandemic, natakot kami na baka anyone of us magkakasakit hindi namin alam paano bibisita or ano yung, sino yung magde-desisyon, so we pushed for that talaga,” Pacifico added.

Patricia and April hope that the anti-discrimination ordinances and proposed law will pave the way for more legislation that will let them enjoy LGBTQIA plus rights which they believe are no different from basic human rights.

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