Jesus Is Lord (JIL) Church founder – and now politician – Bro. Eddie Villanueva expressed his strong opposition of the SOGIE Equality Bill, the latest iteration of the anti-discrimination bill that seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE). Instead of promoting equality, according to him, the SOGIE Equality Bill will only “unduly give special rights” to some members of society at the expense of others.
In a privilege speech delivered on August 28, the representative of the Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption claimed that the SOGIE equality bill would “undermine” the role of parents, “threaten” academic freedom, “imperil” freedom of speech and religion, and “puts into question the very foundation of our laws.”
Villanueva said that out of the 13 versions of the SOGIE equality bill filed in the House, 10 required parents to secure a family court order should they want their children to undergo any medical or psychological examination in matters related to SOGIE. “Since when has it become our policy to give the government more power over our children’s future?” he said.
And so “let it be put to record that this representation is in opposition to SOGIE (Equality) Bill. (In) its current form and provisions, I believe, (it) will not promote equality but will, instead, unduly give special rights to some members of our society at the expense of the rights of other members and to the detriment of the social order in our community,” Villanueva said.
He reasoned that the SOGIE bill “undermines the role of parents in the family,” “threatens academic freedom,” “imperils freedom of speech and religion,” and “puts into question the very foundation” of the country’s laws.
The lawmaker also said the SOGIE bill is “loaded with legal infirmities and unsettling questions on social acceptability and feasibility of implementation.”
“What happens to a Christian like me…if we are to be threatened by punishment every time we share our Bible-based beliefs on matters of transgenders and homosexuals?” Villanueva asked.
Interestingly, by being a politician, religious leader Villanueva is already toying with the laws of the land. The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines specifically declares, in Article II, Section 6: “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”
During his speech, Villanueva similarly emphasized the August 13 incident involving transgender woman, Gretchen Diez, who was barred by a janitress to use a women’s toilet room in a mall in Quezon City. He said that the side of the janitress was given “little, if any, attention.” He is, therefore, calling for a probe that will put particular attention to get the side of the janitress.
It is, however, worth noting that Diez may have started self-proclaiming herself to be the “face of the LGBT movement”, but advocates of the SOGIE Equality Bill noted that LGBTQIA-related discrimination happening in the Philippines go beyond toilet-related access. For instance, according to a survey conducted by Rainbow Rights Project Inc. (R-Rights) with Metro Manila Pride Inc. from 2017 to 2019, with the results showing that 51% of 400 LGBTQIA community members surveyed claiming that they experienced discrimination in public schools, 31% in the streets, and 28% in private schools.
Interpellation on Villanueva’s speech was not allowed, so Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman – the first transgender woman elected into Congress – manifested her request for lawmakers to read the SOGIE bills filed in the chamber.
“Let us not be carried away by extrapolations nor by fear nor by very far away scenarios from other countries,” Roman said. “My request to all is to read the bills. Let us not be carried away by extrapolations nor by fear by very far away scenarios from other countries.”
She added that lawmakers should “focus on the essence and the objective of the bill, which is simply to afford fellow Filipinos the same rights when it comes to work, to study, to receive services from the government, and to access commercial and public establishments, not to be insulted in the streets. And these fellow Filipinos just happen to be members of the LGBT community.”
“There is nothing to fear but everything to look forward to in a society that welcomes everyone even people that is coming from the minority,” Roman said.