The Philippines is one step closer to recognizing equal rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community after the House of Representatives approved a milestone measure in its third and final reading this week.
In a rare display of unity, the Lower House voted unanimously to pass House Bill Number 4982 or An Act Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE).
“The State recognizes the fundamental right of every person regardless of sex, age, class, status, ethnicity, color, disability, religious and political beliefs, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression to be free from any form of discrimination,” the bill states in its policy.
But the bill, which is otherwise known as the SOGIE Equality Act, still has a long way to go since it also needs to be hurdled in the Senate. Here’s what it means if it becomes a law:
Upholding Basic Rights
The essence of the SOGIE Equality Act is not actually to add special rights for the LGBTQ+. Rather, it’s meant to uphold their basic rights.
Some of the violations include:
-Denial to public services
-Refusing admission or dismissing individuals from work or school
Violators will be slapped with hefty fines ranging from P100,000 to P500,000 or upon the court’s decision, will be imprisoned for up to 6 years.
Section 7 states: “In addition, the court may impose upon a person found to have committed any of the prohibited acts the rendition of community service in terms of attendance in human rights education’s familiarization with and exposure to the plight of the victims.”
Members of the LGBTQ+ community who are not yet ready to make their sexual orientation public due to various reasons will have better protection of their privacy under the SOGIE Equality Act.
Section 4 (k) states: “Publishing information intended to ‘out’ or reveal the sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity of persons without their consent, when such has not been made known by the person/s concerned, and has been made with malicious intent or is primarily motivated by a desire for commercial profit.”
Women and Children’s protection desks at police station nationwide will be renamed to also accommodate complaints from members of the LGBTQ+.
Section 9 Item 5 states: “In this regard, police handling said desks shall undergo appropriate trainings with human rights-based approach to include among others gender sensitivity and awareness in proper terminology, dynamics of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) relationships and hate crime investigations.”
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