Hontiveros conducts ‘historic first hearing’ on SOGIE-specific anti-discrimination bill

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros (MNS Photo)

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros (MNS Photo)

PASAY CITY- Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday conducts the first-ever hearing on a proposed landmark measure that seeks to protect the rights of persons with different sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE).

Hontiveros, Chair of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, filed Senate Bill No. 935 otherwise known as the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB) which seeks to expand the constitutional provision guaranteeing the fundamental equality before the law of women and men to include lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, queers and intersex.

The hearing is considered “historic” as this is the first anti-discrimination measure focusing on SOGIE that will be heard in the Senate. It was reported that former Akbayan Congresswoman Etta Rosales filed the bill at the House of Representatives seventeen years ago.

“Today is a historic day for the struggle for equality of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex and queer. Today, the Philippine Senate will hear for the first time a bill that explicitly protects LGBT rights and imposes penalties on discriminatory practices against LGBTs,” Hontiveros said in her opening statement.

Hontiveros explained that her bill seeks to penalize discriminatory practices such as harassment by members of institutions involved in the enforcement of law and declare unlawful the act.of denying a person access to public or private medical and other health services open to the general public on the basis of such person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

Following the UN Human Rights Committee Decision in Toonen v Australia, Hontiveros said her bill will put under the scope of the Equal Protection Clause the rights of persons with different sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Hontiveros said that there are numerous cases of discrimination against LGBTs such as transwomen who were being denied the right to express their gender identity in schools and in the workplace; gay men who could not donate blood because of a government memorandum prohibiting homosexuals from doing so, and law enforcers threatening LGBTs of prosecution for Grave Scandal under Article 200 of the Revised Penal Code as a scheme to harass and to extort from them, among others.

“Ang laban na ito ay para sa lahat ng batang bakla, lesbyana, transgender na nalilito, nagtatanong at pinagkaitan ng patas na pagkakataon. Ang laban na ito ay para sa lahat ng naghahanap ng pagmamahal, pag-uunawa, pagtanggap, anuman ang kasarian. Ang laban na ito ay para sa pagkakapantay-pantay,” Hontiveros said.

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