A hearing on a proposed landmark measure that seeks to protect the rights of persons with different sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE) was held, helmed by Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
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.”
This particular hearing is considered “historic” as this is the first anti-discrimination measure that solely focuses on SOGIE. Former Akbayan Rep. Etta Rosales filed an ADB at the House of Representatives 17 years ago; and while similar bills have been filed over time, these were not SOGIE-specific but also included other minority sectors, including people living with HIV, differently-abled and indigenous people.
SB 935 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 SOGIE.
According to Hontiveros, there are numerous cases of discrimination against LGBT people, such as transwomen being denied the right to express their gender identity in schools and in the workplaces; gay men who could not donate blood because of a government memorandum prohibiting homosexuals from doing so; and law enforcers threatening LGBT people of prosecution for “grave scandal” under Article 200 of the Revised Penal Code as a scheme to harass and to extort from them.
“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 ended.