Vicente Sotto III, a TV personality/comedian who is now serving as the Senate President of the Philippines, again expressed his doubt that the SOGIE Equality Bill pushed in the Senate to prohibit discrimination committed particularly against members of the LGBTQIA community will pass.
Sotto said that the bill filed by Sen. Risa Hontiveros is against women, sans consideration that women also have SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression), and so for him, this is a “class legislation” that only aims to protect a certain sector of society.
Hontiveros likened the SOGIE Equality Bill to the Magna Carta for Women. But Sotto said: “Women cannot be compared to a group like that because, I hate to say this but I have to, If you are a man, you will never be a woman, no matter what you do, because you cannot reproduce. You cannot give birth, you do not have ovaries.”
Sotto’s statements are ill-informed, nonetheless, considering that even for those who were assigned female at birth, childbearing is not immediately linked with their identity as women.
There are (also) other issues worth considering here.
For one, there’s voluntary childlessness. In 2018 in the US, for instance, 96.9% of women between the ages of 15 and 19 years old were childless – the most out of any age group. In the same year, 15% of women between the ages of 40 and 44 years old were childless.
Secondly, there are medical conditions affecting the same (e.g. “surgical menopause”). Again in the US alone, about 300,000 women have their healthy ovaries removed every year. Broken down: About 50% of women who have a hysterectomy between ages 40-44 have their ovaries removed, and 78% of women between ages 45-64 undergoing a hysterectomy have their ovaries removed.
Then there’s the issue of infertility – i.e. “not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or six months if a woman is 35 or older).” Yet again in the US alone, it is estimated that about 10% of women (6.1 million) ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There is also the onset of menopause.
Still, Sotto said that those who were assigned male at birth “will never be a woman. So this, to me, the SOGIE (Equality) Bill is a bill against women’s rights.” And so – particularly because of “the way it is written now, maraming kontra (many are against it)”, its future in the Senate is doubtful.
But still seemingly trying to boost his anti-discrimination credentials, Sotto said that he is more amenable to the Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill (CADB) filed by Sen. Sonny Angara, which seeks to prohibit discriminatory acts committed against more minority sectors, not just the LGBTQIA community (to include persons with disabilities, Indigenous Peoples, seniors and PLHIVs).
The CADB – still pending on the committee level – is preferred by Sotto because, he said, the SOGIE Equality Bill “is so concentrated on the G of the LGBT.”
Hontiveros, during Wednesday’s hearing on the SOGIE Equality Bill, however, was adamant that there is a need to enact a law that specifically caters to the concerns of members of the LGBTQIA community because of needs specific to this sector.