MANILA - Sen. Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday sponsored in plenary a bill that would penalize those who discriminate others due to their gender identity and expression, a measure that has been rejected by most lawmakers since the 11th Congress.
Senate Bill No. 1934 or the SOGIESC-based Anti-Discrimination Act has been languishing in Congress for about 20 years, Hontiveros said in her sponsorship speech, noting that religion often discourages legislators from voting for its passage.
SOCIESC stands for sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics.
"Hindi dapat mangamba tayong mga relihiyoso (Religious people should not worry) because this proposed legislation will govern matters of the state," Hontiveros said.
"Hindi nito babaguhin ang paniniwala ng simbahan o ang mga turo ng bibliya," she said.
(This will neither change the Church's beliefs nor the teachings of the Bible.)
Hontiveros noted that Pope Francis earlier reminded the faithful that "LGBTQ (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queer) people are children of God", too.
"Tayo pa bang mga relihiyoso ang magsasara ng ating mga puso at isipan? Hindi ba’t compassion at kindness ang mga pangunahing tinuturo ng simbahan? Isn’t passing the SOGIE Equality Bill, a Christian thing to do?" the senator said.
The proposal declares as unlawful "promoting and encouraging stigma on the basis of SOGIESC in the media, in educational textbooks, and other medium", as well as "inciting violence and sexual abuse against any person or group on the basis of SOGIESC."
"Refusing admission or expeliing a person from any educational or training, institution on the basis of SOGIESC, including discriminating against a student or trainee due to the SOGIESC of the student's parents or guardian" is deemed illegal under the bill.
The LGBTQ community should also be allowed to freely organize "any organization, association, group, political party, institution, or establishment in educational Institutions, workplaces, communities, and other settings."
Violators may be fined between P500,000 and P1 million "at the discretion of the court," according to the bill.
Government officials who refuse to implement the SOGIESC Act may face administrative charges, it said.
Victims of SOGIESC-based discrimination may also file separate charges against officials who will violate the measure.
"Ang sinasabi lang natin, straight ka mang lalake o babae, bakla, lesbyana, bisexual, transgender o queer, lahat tayo ay may ambag sa lipunan, lahat tayo pantay-pantay," Hontiveros said.
(We are just saying that whether you are a straight male or female, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer, all of us are contributing to society, and that we are all equal.)
"We should be lifting up their voices making sure they are heard, loud and clear... We should stand up, alongside them, in the fight for their basic rights," she said.
Eight members of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality endorsed the bill, while 5 other senators did not sign the committee report for the SOGIESC bill.
The members of the Committee who signed are:
- Sen. Risa Hontiveros (chair)
- Sen. Nancy Binay
- Sen. Leila de Lima
- Sen. Imee Marcos
- Sen. Grace Poe
- Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto
- Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri
- Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon
The members of the Committee who did not sign are:
- Sen. Pia Cayetano
- Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa
- Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian
- Sen. Cynthia Villar
- Sen. President Vicente Sotto III
Last year, Sotto said that the SOGIE bill "has no chance" of hurdling the Senate.