Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III declared that the bill that seeks to ban discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE) has “no chance” of passing in the Senate – at least under his leadership.
In a message, Sotto stated: “Anti-discrimination on persons, pwede, pero [it’s possible, but] focused on gays, which the SOGIE bill is, and religious and academic freedom impeded plus smuggling of same sex marriage? No chance!”
Sotto has repeatedly shown his opposition of the anti-discrimination bill, known in its current iteration as the SOGIE Equality Bill. For instance, during the 17th Congress, he was among the senators who – in essence – blocked the passage of the measure because of his insistence to want to interpellate the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Risa Hontiveros. The same interpellation didn’t happen until Congress adjourned, thereby killing the measure.
Surprisingly, in 2018, he actually stated that the ADB’s passage is “possible”. But his response even then was tempered by his position to continue allowing education/religious institutions to discriminate, and was similarly still stuck in toilet use (i.e. disallowing people to use restrooms according to their gender identity).
More recently, still confused about the meaning of LGBTQIA – coming after years of hosting Eat Bulaga, which has a trans pageant Super SiReyna, segment Suffer SiReyna, and co-hosts who are part of the LGBTQIA community, including Liza Seguerra and Allan K – Sotto suggested removing the acronym and instead just refer to members of the community as “homo sapiens”.
The onus is not on Sotto alone, however, but those who placed him in his position of power to maneuver what will be discussed in the Senate’s session hall. Last June 4, 13 senators signed a resolution backing Sotto’s so-called leadership in the then incoming 18th Congress. These included: Sens. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, Ralph Recto, Nancy Binay, Loren Legarda, Grace Poe, Sonny Angara, Francis Escudero, Sherwin Gatchalian, Gregorio Honasan, Aquilino Pimentel III, and Joel Villanueva.
Escudero, Honasan and Legarda ended their terms on June 30.
In contrast to the Senate under the so-called Sotto leadership, the Lower House/House of Representatives passed the bill in 2017.
The first anti-discrimination bill was filed 19 years ago. It was first filed in the 11th Congress by Akbayan Party-List Representative Etta Rosales. That version of the bill was approved on third and final reading in the 12th Congress, but failed to gain traction in the Senate. In 2006, during the 13th Congress, the ADB reached second reading.