On Dec. 6, the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality filed their report recommending the passage of the newest version of proposed anti-discrimnation bill Senate Bill No. 1600, also known as the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Equality Bill.
19 out of 24 senators signed the committee report, said Sen. Risa Hontiveros.
“The swiftness with which the committee report was signed and filed is surely a sign of good things to come,” the senator said. “Sa isang araw lang, nahikayat natin sila na pumirma sa committee report. Mas lalo akong nabuhayan ng loob na sa Kongresong ito, maipapasa na sa wakas ang SOGIE bill.”
She also noted that it’s high time we show zero tolerance for discrimination. “Buhay at hanapbuhay ang ipinagkakait natin sa mga miyembro ng LGBTQIA+ nang dahil lang sa mga paniniwala at tradisyong kailangang iwasto. 2022 na, our laws should reflect the realities of our culture.”
After being approved at the Senate committee level, the bill will then have to be approved by both the Senate and the Congress before being passed on to the president.
Just like Sen. Hontiveros, we need to stress that the SOGIESC Bill is about anti-discrimination. Currently, there are no safeguards for queer people against discrimination. There are no laws against hate speech, no laws protecting you from being singled out by your employer just for your sexuality, or from being denied medical treatment just for your gender identity. And because this law specifically focuses on discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics, this ultimately would be beneficial for cisgender heterosexual people, too. Everybody possesses these things. Everybody has their own SOGIESC.
While this win is well-appreciated, especially after news of the frivolous “Heterosexual Act” proposal and Justice Secretary Crispin Remulla saying that we’re not ready for both the bill and same-sex marriage, it’s not something we haven’t heard of before. Multiple versions of the SOGIE Bill have similarly gained these small wins only to languish in either the Senate or the Congress since 2017.
We hope that this time it sticks, though we’ll keep one eye open.