Transgender woman Gretchen Diez urged President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday to certify as urgent the anti-discrimination bill aimed at protecting the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community.
Diez was referring to the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE) bill which has been pending in the Congress for decades.
“I think it is a very big step that he signed the Bawal Ang Bastos Law and it is very admirable of him and it just shows how much he loves the community so Mr. President, I hope we follow through with the passage of the SOGIE equality bill,” Diez said in a press briefing at the Quezon City Hall.
Recently, Duterte signed a law prohibiting sexual harassment of women, including catcalling.
Diez drew attention online after a female janitor barred her from entering a women’s toilet at a mall in Cubao, Quezon City. She tried to document the incident on her phone, angering the janitor who had her arrested.
The incident sparked the call for the passage of the bill which failed to pass in the 17th Congress.
If passed into a law, denial of access to establishments, facilities, services and utilities on the basis of sexual orientation will be prohibited. The proposed measure will also penalize verbal and physical harassment against LGBTQ+.
Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, the first elected transgender woman in Congress, also asked Duterte to mark the bill as urgent.
“I hope the needs of this sector will be given priority so they will be protected. I know the President supports the LGBT,” Roman said in a television interview Friday.
Earlier, Malacañang said President Duterte will support the proposed measure because he wants “fair treatment to all.”
The administration has repeatedly said Duterte holds the “supermajority” in the Congress, saying most of the lawmakers were allies of the President.
While the President and his former aide, Senator Christopher Go, support the SOGIE bill, other senators were apprehensive about affording a preference to a particular group.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said some senators might opt to pass a bill banning discrimination against several sectors, instead of a proposed law that solely bars discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people.
Senator Joel Villanueva said the law should be equal—and that everyone should be equal.
“You cannot give special treatment for a particular law at the expense of another sector,” Villanueva said.
But Go expressed full support for the SOGIE bill, saying he was approached by Roman and Senator Risa Hontiveros to help them pass the bill.
Zubiri said he is inclined to support the bill, noting that half his staff belongs to the LGBTQ community.
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, who filed a bill against all forms of discrimination, acknowledged that discrimination remains a problem for women, children, persons with disabilities or the LGBTQ community.
Angara’s bill lists 13 ‘acts of discrimination’ that covers a broad spectrum of actions and the consequences of these on the affected parties.
Meanwhile, Roman on Friday said gender-neutral bathrooms will prevent members of the LGBTQ community from getting themselves into trouble.