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Trans lawmaker bats for passage of law banning SOGI discrimination

The first and lone transgender legislator in the country, Rep. Geraldine B. Roman (1st District, Bataan), appealed for the passage of a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

Rep. Geraldine Roman (1st District, Bataan) launched the Anti-Discrimination Bill Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (ADBBSOGI) at the House of Representatives together with pro-LGBT rights legislators, Representatives Kaka Bag-ao and Christopher de Venecia. The pro-LGBT rights advocates raise a #EQUALITYCHAMPIONS sign during the said press conference.

Photo shows Rep. Geraldine Roman (1st District, Bataan) at the launch of the Anti-Discrimination Bill Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (ADBBSOGI) at the House of Representatives, together with pro-LGBT rights legislators, Representatives Kaka Bag-ao and Christopher de Venecia. The pro-LGBT rights advocates raised a #EQUALITYCHAMPIONS.

The first and lone transgender legislator in the country, Rep. Geraldine B. Roman (1st District, Bataan), appealed for the passage of a law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

While Roman said that the members of the 17th Congress “have not only welcomed me with open arms but have dealt with me as a full-fledged colleague, as an equal,” she lamented that the same equal treatment is not given to other LGBT people in the real world, thus the need for a law that would protect their rights.

“The Philippines has had 164 cases of hate crimes against LGBT since 1996. And yet, there is no single office or even a desk within the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police, and the National Bureau of Investigation that documents and monitors such cases,” Roman said, adding that there are even private commercial establishments that continue to turn away transgender individuals on the basis of gender identity. “Bakit naman may mga restaurants at nightclubs na ayaw magpapasok ng transgender (people)? How different are we from your other patrons? Kaya din naman namin magbayad. Ipagbabawal ng batas na ito ang mga ganitong uri ng diskriminasyon (Why are there restaurants and nightclubs that refuse to allow transgender clients? We can afford to pay. The anti-discrimination law based on sexual orientation and gender identity will ban such discriminatory practices).”

Once passed, the anti-discrimination bill will prohibit the following discriminatory acts:

  • If an employer, whether from the private or public sector, includes sexual orientation or gender identity in the criteria for hiring, promotion, transfer, designation, work assignment, re-assignment, dismissal, performance review, selection for training, in the computation of benefits, privileges and allowances – that is discrimination.
  • If a school or any educational or training institution refuses to admit a student or participant or chooses to expel him or her solely on the basis of SOGI – that is discrimination.
  • If a school imposes disciplinary sanctions, penalties, restrictions and requirements harsher than the usual that infringe on the rights of students on the basis of SOGI – that is discrimination.
  • When a student or a trainee is harassed, punished or restricted due to the SOGI of his parents or legal guardians – then that is tantamount to discrimination.

Roman stressed that the passage of the proposed law would also penalize law enforcers who harass individuals on the basis of SOGI.

“What if a member of the PNP harasses a person because he or she is gay? Then the proposed law will make that officer accountable for his or her actions. Harassment occurs when a person is arrested or placed in custody and subjected to extortion, physical or verbal abuse, because that person is gay and vulnerable,” Roman said.

Under the Roman bill, a jail term of not less than one year but not more than six years and a fine of not less than P100,000 to a maximum of P500,000 await the guilty of violating any of its provisions.

It also seeks to direct all Women and Children’s Desks in all police stations to act on and attend to complaints/cases concerning discrimination due to SOGI. Police assigned to these desks will undergo appropriate trainings with human rights-based approach to include, among others, gender sensitivity and awareness in proper terminology, dynamics of LGBT relationships and hate crime investigations.

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The anti-discrimination bill based on SOGI now has the support of over a hundred lawmakers, many signing up as co-authors of the bill.

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