Worried about the delay in the deliberation of Senate Bill No. 1600 or the proposed Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Equality Act due to pushback from Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and certain religious groups?
Don’t lose hope. The SOGIESC Equality Act of 2022 or House Bill No. 5551 filed by the Makabayan Bloc, which includes Gabriela Women’s Party, has been approved in the committee level.
“We, in the Gabriela Women’s Party, laud the committee approval of the [SOGIESC] Equality Bill. This is a step towards the long-overdue enactment of legislation which will prohibit all forms of discrimination and harassment against the LGBTQIA+ community,” Gabriela’s Rep. Arlene Brosas said, confirming the news on May 23.
The House Committee on Women and Gender Equality approved it after the panel accepted the expanded bill crafted by the technical working group (TWG) and filed back in October 2022.
The TWG consolidated House Bills No. 222, 460, 3418, 3702, 4277, 5551, 6003 & 7036—similar bills seeking to prohibit discrimination of people on the basis of their SOGIESC.
“This bill aims to ensure that there will be no more members of the LGBTQIA+ deprived of basic rights, such as the right to work, the right to education, the right to access health services, facilities, and establishments, and others, simply because of their SOGIE. Discrimination has been a reality in the lives of the LGBTQIA+,” the explanatory note for House Bill No. 5551 states.
This version of the SOGIESC Bill deems the following actions as discriminatory of a person’s SOGIESC:
- Advertising, producing, and publishing materials promoting, encouraging, and perpetuating stigma or inciting violence and sexual abuse against any person or group on the basis of SOGIESC
- Denying access to public services to any person on the basis of SOGIESC
- Including SOGIESC, as well as the disclosure of one’s SOGIESC, in the criteria for hiring, promotion, transfer, designation, work assignment, re-assignment
- Refusing admission or expelling a person from any educational or training institution, such as police and military academies or training institutions, on the basis of SOGIESC
- Imposing disciplinary sanctions, penalties harsher than customary or similar punishments, requirements, restrictions, or prohibitions that infringe on the rights of the students on the basis of SOGIESC
Considering the number of Senate bills for SOGIESC also languishing, the clamor for anti-discrimination legislation cannot be denied. What’s next for HB 5551?
The bill is set to go on its second reading at the House of Representatives where it will likely face opposition. “It is our hope that the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate will heed the call of the Filipino people by passing this important legislation as soon as possible to address the long-standing discrimination against LGBTQIA+ in Philippine society,” Rep. Brosas said.
It’s almost Pride month so our fingers are definitely crossed for even bigger wins for the SOGIESC Bills real soon.
Photo from Metro Manila Pride