Rainbow hurray in Cebu City.
An ordinance mandating the city government proactively show its support of the LGBTQIA community was passed. City Ordinance 2660, or the Cebu City SOGIESC Equality Ordinance, specifically mandates the local government unit (LGU) to recognize the Cebu City’s LGBTQIA community by creating an office to serve this community, developing LGBTQIA-related programs, and allocating a percentage of the GAD funds for the LGBTQIA community.
Cebu City is – at least on paper – recognized as one of the more progressive LGUs in the Philippines, with the city council passing City Ordinance 2339 on October 17, 2012 to prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, disability, health status, sexual orientation and gender identity, ethnicity and religion.
First-time violators of the law may be fined P1,000.00 or an imprisonment of one day to 30 days, or both, at the discretion of the court. Second-time offenders are fined P3,000.00 or an imprisonment of one day to 30 days, or both, at the discretion of the court. Meanwhile, third-time offenders are penalized with a fine of P5,000.00 or an imprisonment of one day to 30 days, or both, at the discretion of the court.
But LGBTQIA-related discrimination still happens in Cebu.
And so for Ms Maria Eda Catabas, executive director of Cebu United Rainbow LGBTIQ+ Sector, Inc. (CURLS), a Cebu-based trans organization, the newer ordinance is needed.
“Cebu City’s ADO’s mandate is to legally prohibit everyone in Cebu City from discriminating against marginalized sectors (including LGBTIQIA people),” she said, but “the SOGIESC Equality Ordinance’s mandate is to create an office/council to ensure the presence of SOGIESC-responsive development programs in Cebu City.”
Here, therefore, it can be seen that “this ordinance is essential because there is a lack of SOGIESC-responsive development programs in Cebu City.”
“The government must educate people about unique issues/problems faced by Cebuano LGBTQIA people, and thereby address them,” Catabas added. “Ultimately, the ordinance shall promote the well-being of our community in Cebu City to become productive citizens.”
Aside from the acts prohibited in the earlier ADO, the newer ordinance also prohibits:
- SOGIESC-based violations against dignity (e.g. maliciously humiliating in public an individual due to the person’s SOGIESC); maliciously inflicting physical harm on any individual; vexing, harassing, threatening any individual, either physically, verbally, in writing, or for publications about to the person’s SOGIESC; and continuously subjecting any individual to jokes, pranks or humor).
- SOGIESC-based discrimination (e.g. invasion of personal autonomy and self-development; constraints in the access to government services and resources; constraints to economic opportunities; constraints to the access to health, care and wellness; constraints in the access to education and learning; constraints in the access of accommodation, facilities, utilities, transportation, goods and services open to the public; and constraints to access to consultative and other political processes).
Penalties vary, though may be one of the following: six months imprisonment and/or a fine of five thousand pesos, or three months imprisonment and/or a fine of three thousand pesos, or both. If a business is sued, its president, immediate manager and/or supervisor/department head shall be held liable with the erring employee.
Just as important, though, is the ordinance’s mandate to establish the SOGIESC Pride Empowerment Council (SPEC), which will:
- Serve as the core advocacy on SOGIESC Empowerment and development.
- Finalize 3 year Strategic Plan anchored in the city’s GAD plan.
- Monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Strategic plan.
- Draft and recommend policies and perform such other functions as may be prescribed by law and in furtherance of this ordinance.
Barangays under the jurisdiction of the city are also expected to create, determine the composition and convene their respective barangay’s SPEC.
The amount of PhP3,000,000.00, at the minimum, will be sourced from the GAD budget annually for the implementation of this measure.
The ordinance now awaits the signature of Mayor Mike Rama.