In a move blatantly contradicting the segregation of Church and State, Manila 6th District Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. filed a bill that eyes to recognize, define, and protect the rights of heterosexual people who – he said – are the “actual and direct creations of God.”
House Bill No. 5717 is supposed to be the antithesis of all versions of anti-discrimination bills filed to protect the human rights of LGBTQIA people, with Abante’s bill’s explanatory note stating that LGBTQIA people “are clamoring for ‘legislated rights’ and ‘state protection’ tailored for their specific kind and class, all in contravention to God’s law of creation and procreation and in utter defiance to His statutes and commandments, and the principles and standards of proper conduct and righteous living that He set for an orderly and morally upright society.”
For Abante, therefore, if LGBTQIA people are given human rights, then “in the spirit of justice, equity and fair play, we must also ‘grant and/or protect’ rights to heterosexuals who are the actual and direct creations of God, as the Bible says.”
HB 5717 proposes for the following rights of heterosexuals to be granted and protected:
- To adhere to, practice, proclaim, promote, propagate, defend and protect their religion and religious beliefs, convictions and standards without interference and/or abridgmen
- To freely express, exercise, and impose, in running or operating their churches, businesses, schools or workplaces
- To freely express their views, verbally or in writing, privately or publicly, in print or broadcast media, or in social media platforms that now exist or may hereafter be developed about homosexuality, bisexuality, and on transgenders and queers according to their religious beliefs and practices and to biblical principles and standards
The legislation deems these acts as prohibited:
- Attempting to, or actually preventing, prohibiting, abridging, or interfering with the free exercise and enjoyment by heterosexuals of any of their rights
- Threatening, directly or indirectly, in any form, a homosexual for exercising any of his or her rights
For violators, the bill recommends penalties of imprisonment from five years and one day to seven years and one day, as well as fines ranging from P100,000 to P200,000.
If the offender is a public official, they shall also be dismissed from employment, be perpetually disqualified from holding any public office, and all monetary benefits forfeited in favor of the government.
Abante’s proposal has been rejected by pro-human rights activists.
The chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group, lawyer, educator and human rights advocate Chel Diokno, for instance, said that this bill “only serves to legitimize the very real oppression experienced by LGBTQIA Filipinos now.”
The proposed Heterosexual Act only serves to legitimize the very real oppression experienced by LGBTQIA Filipinos now.
— Chel Diokno (@ChelDiokno) November 9, 2022
“Ang bill na ito ay nagbubulag-bulagan sa mga naranasang araw araw na tinatanggihan ng serbisyo o tinatanggalan ng oportunidad sa eduksyon at trabaho dahil lang sa kanilang sexual orientation o gender identity/expression,” Diokno added. “Ginagawa nitong legal ang pagkait ng dignidad ng ibang tao. Anuman ang ating pinaniniwalaan, magkakasundo naman siguro tayong mali ito. Imbis nitong bill, dapat isabatas na ang SOGIE Law.”
Meanwhile, militant LGBTQIA group Lakapati Laguna said that the bill is “unnecessary, counterproductive, and illogical”, and that it ” HB 5717 or the Heterosexual Act of 2022 which “only legitimizes homophobia.”
‘HETEROSEXUAL ACT OF 2022’ A PATHETIC STUNT TO STRENGTHEN BIGOTRY
Militant LGBT group Lakapati Laguna blasts Manila Rep. Benny Abante for filing the unnecessary, counterproductive, and illogical HB 5717 or the Heterosexual Act of 2022 which only legitimizes homophobia. pic.twitter.com/Nic1GcjEgs
— Lakapati Laguna (@LakapatiLaguna) November 9, 2022
“HB 5717 has its clear goals; to continue oppressing people outside of the heteronormative setup and strip (LGBTQIA) people of inherent human rights all while masquerading as a legitimate demand of the people that is validated, protected, and amplified by the law,” Lakapati Laguna added.