Yesterday, there was a Senate hearing where politicians, religious groups, and pro-LGBT advocates were present to discuss the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill.
As usual, it was a frustrating sight to see online as the media and organizations like MMPride posted updates on Twitter. Religious groups have debated that the bill should address discrimination against all people and not just the LGBTQ+ community, and also claimed it will step on their religious freedom. Another critique was that the bill excluded other sectors while giving “special treatment” to LGBTQ+ people.
Allow us to unpack these statements we saw from the hearing.
CCFP: “[Our] opposition to the bill will not be misconstrued as hatred for LGBT people… This bill is based on feelings. It is not based on facts.”
— ?Metro Manila Pride (@mmprideorg) September 4, 2019
Atty. Lyndon Caña of the Coalition of Concerned Families of the Philippines (CCFP) presented a preliminary statement which repeatedly emphasized they don’t hate the LGBTQ+ community and that they respect them, but his group is against the SOGIE Equality Bill. He claimed the bill is “not based on facts,” which is obviously untrue.
The bill is meant to protect the LGBTQ+ community from discrimination and violence based on their SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression). If this was created based merely on feelings, then explain why Human Rights Watch made a report detailing how students are being bullied because of their SOGIE? Or the fact Outright International found that LGBTQ+ people experienced high levels of violence from their partners? How about the fact trans women are experiencing discrimination in public spaces and even killed?
You may not hate the LGBTQ+ community like you said, but if you respect them then you should support a bill that protects them.
Atty. Lyndon Caña: “Women’s toilet is for women. That’s based on fact. Now here comes a man who insists he is a woman who insists they should be there.”
First of all, Atty. Caña, Gretchen Diez is a woman and you should refer to her as “she.”
Secondly, trans women are real women. They are not men who crossdress to creep on women in the restrooms. A study published in “The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law” cited there are only a small number of cases where men have pretended to be trans to violate women’s privacy in restrooms.
If someone does this, it’s because they are perverted and want to harass people. Their gender identity and sexual orientation shouldn’t be used against them.
Atty. Aldwin Salumbides: “Isn’t this proposed law coming up with a special kind of labeling?… Parang binibigyan natin sila ng special na karapatan o proteksyon.“
Atty. Salumbides was the one who said the SOGIE Equality Bill is giving special treatment to the LGBTQ+ community. Again, this bill is meant to give them protection from the constant discrimination and abuse they experience in society—that’s a basic human right. No person should ever feel unsafe in public spaces and in the workplace, and the reality is that non-LGBTQ+ people are privileged because we don’t experience this as much as the LGBTQ+.
Cesar Buendia: “Gender identity is based on the mind and not on objective, observable facts. LGBTQ+ has no clear definition. The set acronym has no set meaning. What will prevent the addition of P for pedophilia?”
Being a pedophile isn’t the same as being gay, straight, lesbian, and so on. Pedophilia is considered a psychological disorder wherein an adult is attracted to children. Last year, the term “pedosexual” made rounds online after a hoax became viral, but people actually came out and identified with this.
Being LGBTQ+ isn’t the same because it’s not a mental illness. A person chooses their gender identity based on what they identify with the most—it’s mostly something they feel when they are born.
What’s another difference between the two? Being an LGBTQ+ person won’t land you in jail.
Cesar Buendia: “The SOGIE Bill will make us who believe in the Christian faith second-class citizens.”
For the nth time: The SOGIE Bill is not meant to step on anyone’s freedom of expression or religion. If Christian people don’t identify as LGBTQ+ and won’t benefit from the SOGIE Equality Bill, that’s fine. But they shouldn’t be shoving down their beliefs to impinge on other people’s rights.
Also, the bill isn’t going to make anyone into second-class citizens. In the first place, the LGBTQ+ community is considered a minority anywhere in the world and they are just demanding for respect and equality. It’s downright ignorant and oppressive for people to think their freedom is being stepped on by a specific group’s basic human rights. Please check your privilege.
There’s still work to be done to get the SOGIE Equality Bill passed into law. We should all be diligent in educating the misinformed, engage in discussions, attend hearings with other advocates, and spread awareness on social media. The LGBTQ+ community needs us.
Art by Tricia Guevara
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