Supposedly highlighting the importance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Quezon City, an anti-discrimination ordinance specifically for the LGBT sector is being eyed to be developed, according to the city’s vice mayor, Ma. Josefina G. Belmonte during a forum tackling policy audits for inclusive development in Quezon City.
Quezon City already has an employment-related anti-discrimination ordinance (SP 1309, S-2003), which was passed in 2003 to protect homosexuals from prejudicial treatment they may face at the workplace, whether in the government or in private companies. The city, however, does not have an encompassing anti-discrimination ordinance (ADO), akin to what Davao City, Angeles City, Davao City and Bacolod City have.
It is worth highlighting, though, that the ADOs of these cities are not specific to LGBT people. Instead, the ordinances declare as unlawful acts and conducts of discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin, and religious affiliation or beliefs, among others.
“There are many LGBT (people) in our city, and I believe they are such a strong and important force in our city’s progress and development,” Belmonte said exclusively to Outrage Magazine. “Sa tingin ko, kapag mas ma-empower pa natin sila, mas maipapakita pa natin sa kanila na sila ay ating minamahal… mas magiging productive sila (The way I see it, if we can empower them, if we can show that we love them… they will become more productive). There’s so much they can do for the city if we help them.”
How effective Quezon City’s existing ordinance to protect members of the LGBT community from being discriminated in the workplace is currently being tested. In March, Mara La Torre, a transgender woman working at a call center company in Quezon City, filed with the city’s Office of the Prosecutor a criminal complaint against two security guards for prohibiting her to use the company’s female restroom. This now serves as a test case on whether the ordinance has teeth when it comes to its application.
According to Belmonte, a consultation will be made not only with members of the LGBT community, but also with barangays in Quezon City to “ensure that there is ownership of the proposed ordinance.”
No timeline has been set on when the ordinance is eyed to be passed.
Since there is currently no country-wide policy protecting LGBT people’s human rights in the Philippines, the ADOs of some local government units offer some Filipinos protection from discriminatory acts.