Batangas City has become the latest locality to pass an ordinance providing protection on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE).
Ordinance No. 12, S. 2016, otherwise known as “The Batangas City Gender-Fair Ordinance” – authored by Councilor Claudette U. Ambida-Alday – declares as a city-wide policy working for the “elimination of all forms of discrimination that offend the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution and other existing laws, and to value toe dignity of every person, guarantee full respect for human rights and give the highest priority to measures that protect and enhance the right of all people.”
The ordinance is SOGIE-specific, instead of the broader non-discrimination ordinances usually filed/passed that only includes the protection of rights of LGBT people with the protection of rights of other minority sectors, including indigenous people, differently abled people, people living with HIV and senior citizens.
Prohibited acts included in the ordinance include discrimination in employment, education, delivery of goods and services, and accommodation. The ordinance also includes verbal, non-verbal ridicule and vilification; harassment, unjust detention and involuntary confinement; disallowance from entry and refusal to serve; and promotion of discrimination against LGBT people.
The ordinance similarly incorporates SOGIE concerns with the “functions of existing Violence Against Women and Children (VAWC) desk/human rights desk in Batangas City Police District.” SOGIE concerns are also being eyed to be included in the functions of existing barangay VAWC desks.
A Batangas City Pride Council will be developed, to be headed by the mayor, with members including the representative of the Gender Development council and four representatives from LGBT NGOs accredited by the city.
Persons who violate the ordinance may be penalized for a period of no less than 60 days, or be fined of not less than P1,000.
In support of the LGBT communities in Batangas City, the local government is now mandated by the ordinance to celebrate Pride on the first Saturday of December, World AIDS Day on December 1, and Human Rights Day on December 10.
The Province of Batangas actually already passed in 2015 an ordinance prohibiting discrimination of SOGIE particularly of LGBT people. Signed by then Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto, it sought to penalize discriminatory acts including – though not limited to – refusal of admission or expulsion from educational institutions; refusal or revocation of formal recognition of LGBT organizations; denial of medical services; denial of accommodation; subjecting or forcing LGBT people to undergo medical or psychological examinations; work-related discrimination; and professional discrimination. To curb social stigma and eliminate discrimination, the same ordinance mandated the development of awareness-raising campaigns that focused on respect for human rights and human dignity.