YAY for Monday: SOGIE Bill is now a priority legislation in Congress!

Maria Romero
PUBLISHED August 6, 2018 04:12 pm | UPDATED October 24, 2018 04:58 pm
Art by Dani Elevazo

Finally, after more than 19 years, a bill protecting a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) is now a priority legislation in 17th Congress. After being hung up in the Senate for the 600th day today for interpellation, the bill is once again put in the national legislative agenda for this week’s session to #EndTheDebate.

House Bill No. 4982 otherwise known as the “SOGIE Equality Bill” was first filed in the 11th Congress by the late Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and then Akbayan Party-list Representative Etta Rosales. And this 17th Congress, it is coming to fruition with the collective efforts of Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman, Diwa Party List Representative Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, and Dinagat Islands Representative Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao. Sen. Risa Hontiveros has also filed a Senate version which is Senate Bill No. 1271.

While the bill has to hurdle the Senate, its ratification in the House is already a victory for the LGBTQIA+ Community. But that doesn’t end there because they still have a long and crucial way to go!

Now with only six sessions left before Senate goes to recess, LGBTQIA+ community and allies are on for #LoveIsAllWeNeed movement to call the attention of the legislators who initially showed opposition in the bill including Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, and Sen. Joel Villanueva.

What is SOGIE and why does it need to be passed into law?

The Purpose

There are existing police desks to attend to complaints regarding women and children but none to accommodate charges against members of the queer community - and that’s what SOGIE bill is about.

The bill is meant to fulfill the equal protection clause set forth in the 1987 constitution ensuring that LGBTQIA+ rights are also protected in as much as everyone’s is. Moreover, the bill also pushes for the recognition and non-discrimination of the queers as written under international law particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Details

The bill states that it only seeks to prohibit certain acts that discriminate against members of the LGBTQIA+ community on basis of SOGIE such as:

  • Hiring and/or firing a person

  • Admission or expulsion from any educational or institution

  • Revocation of accreditation, formal recognition on institutions, workplaces, and other settings

  • Denial of access to private or public medical attention

  • Revocation of professional or other similar kinds of license, clearance certification or any other similar document issued by the government

  • Denial of access to or the use of establishments, facilities, utilities or services open to the general public

  • Enforcement to undertake any medical or psychological examination to determine and/or alter a person’s SOGIE

  • Harassment by members of institutions involved in the enforcement of law and the protection of human rights of any person

  • Publishing information intending to “out” a person’s SOGIE and engaging in a public speech intended to shame or ridicule queer persons

Those convicted of discriminating against a person as mandated in the bill shall be fined not less than P100,000 but not more than P500,000, or be imprisoned for less than one year but not more than six years or both. According to Bag-ao, the court can also impose community service upon erring people in the form of human rights education and familiarization with and exposure to the plight of victims.

The Myth-busting

Contrary to the fears of religious lawmakers who claim that the bill is setting a dangerous precedent in possibly charging individuals who are just standing up for their beliefs, the bill in itself is only pushing to end discrimination among queer people. Nothing more, nothing less.

The bill’s sponsors have repeatedly emphasized that the bill is not masquerading a provision on same-sex marriages or same-sex unions for that matter.

This fight to #EndTheDebate has been long and winding. People have been lamenting that it is long overdue. With so many opposing forces weighing in on the debate, the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies are nothing but hopeful to finally live in a country that doesn’t discriminate because #LoveIsAllWeNeed and #LoveIsLove.

Source: congress.gov.ph and senate.gov.ph



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