The newest version of the anti-discrimination bill (ADB) – called the SOGIESC Equality Bill – has been approved at the Senate committee level, with 19 of the 24 senators supporting the moving forward of the bill, announced Sen Risa Hontiveros, its main proponent as the head of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality.
The SOGIESC Equality Bill, like its past iterations, eye to protect the human rights of all Filipinos no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC); it is expected to particularly benefit members of the LGBTQIA community who may be deprived of their human rights solely because of who/what they are or who they love.
GOOD NEWS! 👍🏼 Naihain ko na po ang Comm Rpt ng SOGIESC Equality Bill, 🏳️🌈 kung saan 19 of us colleagues in the Sen have come together to support the moving forward of the bill! ✊🏼#NoToDiscrimination#EqualityNOW pic.twitter.com/Ja6ceARNb6
— risa hontiveros (@risahontiveros) December 6, 2022
This development, nonetheless, does not necessarily guarantee the passage of the SOGIESC Equality Bill.
In the Upper House/Senate, bills go through multiple processes (https://legacy.senate.gov.ph/about/legpro.asp) before – or if at all – it comes a law, i.e.: it has to be introduced/filed; referred to an appropriate committee; discussed in committee hearings; a committee report is then produced; the bill with a committee report is referred to be included in the Senate’s calendar of business; and then it has to be approved after three readings. Any bill passed by the Senate must also have a version at the Lower House/House of Representatives, where any bill follows the same route to passage, though specifically from that chamber.
Only when both the Senate and the House of Representatives approve a version (via a Bicameral Conference Committee) will a final version be sent to Malacañang, where the sitting president may or may not sign it into law.
With some form of an ADB pending in both Houses of Congress for 22 years now, this is not the first time it passed the committee level, only to be hindered by politicians with anti-LGBTQIA positions. In 2018, as an example, senators – with some still in positions of power now, such as Joel Villanueva – delaying the interpellation to ensure ADB is not passed at all.
In 2019, former Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III openly stated that under his leadership, ADB will not be passed into law.
With the latest development, numerous LGBTQIA organizations stress the need to #PassADBNow.
UP Babaylan, the LGBTQIA organization in the University of the Philippines-Diliman, as an example, stated: “It has been 22 years too long! Now more than ever, we need the passage of the SOGIESC Equality Bill!”