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Supreme Court of the Philippines suspends Manila judge over anti-LGBTQIA remarks

Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 26 Presiding Judge Jorge Emmanuel Lorredo was found liable for his “bias and partiality” after telling litigants that homosexuality is a “sin”.

The Supreme Court (SC) of the Philippines suspended a Manila judge for 30 days for being anti-LGBTQIA.

In an 18-page decision penned by Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 26 Presiding Judge Jorge Emmanuel Lorredo was found liable for his “improper remarks.” This stemmed from a complaint filed baby litigants Marcelino Espejon and Erickson Cabonita who – in 2019 – alleged that Lorredo showed “bias and partiality” against them and their sexual orientation during a preliminary conference; the judge persistently asked them if they were homosexuals and told them that homosexuality was a “sin.”

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Pagka-bading, tomboy, lesbian, ayaw ng Diyos yun… So pag meron kang lesbian relationship, paparusahan yung anak mo. Dengvaxia di ba? (Kayo din) kasi may kasalanan kayo sa Diyos eh (God doesn’t want gays, tomboys, and lesbians…. So if you have a lesbian relationship, your child will be punished. Dengvaxia, right? Well, you have also sinned against God),” SC quoted Lorredo as saying.

“The Court rules that such remarks constitute homophobic slurs, ‘which have no place in our courts of law.’ Thus, for issuing the inappropriate statements, respondent judge violated the New Code of Judicial Conduct, which imposes on judges the duty to ensure equal treatment of all before the courts and to understand diversity arising from race, sex religion, age, sexual orientation, and social and economic status, among others,” the SC said in a statement.

SC similarly noted that Lorredo’s remarks were a violation of a resolution from the Civil Service Commission, which classifies sexual harassment as acts that might be reasonably expected to cause discrimination, insecurity, discomfort, offense, or humiliation.

Sadly, the judge’s bias may have been unchecked for years already. The SC also noted that the suspended judge admitted to have settled 101 cases using the Bible, and allowed his religious beliefs to interfere with his judicial functions.

The judge will still keep his post, as he was only given a 30-day suspension and a fine of P50,000 for sexual harassment, simple misconduct, and conduct unbecoming of a judge, the SC said in its statement.

A full copy of the decision can be read on the Supreme Court website.

The SC’s pro-LGBTQIA stance has been repeatedly highlighted under the court of SC Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo. For instance, earlier, he issued a memo reiterating the use of gender-fair language in all official documents, communication, and issuances in the judiciary. Supreme Court Memorandum Circular No. 90-202 noted that while the use of gender-fair language is now being advocated in the judiciary through seminars and modules, as well as in the distribution of manuals and materials to court officials and court personnel, “some of the official documents, communications, and issuances of the judiciary still use sexist language.”

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And so Chief Justice Gesmundo recapitulated SC Administrative Circular No. 82-2006 – itself adopting the CSC Memorandum Circular No. 12 s. 2005 – that encourages government employees and officials to avoid sexist terms and use gender-neutral language.

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