Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill advocate Sen. Risa Hontiveros said that her proposed measure has enough supporters in the upper chamber–but Senate President Vicente Sotto III believes otherwise.
At an event called “Humanizing SOGIE,” groups and personalities from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community gathered at the Senate on Monday to drum up support for the SOGIE Equality Bill.
While the event was ongoing, a large group formed outside the Senate to protest the passing of the bill.
According toABS-CBN News, the two gatherings became a showdown of sorts, and a prelude to the fierce battle in the upper chamber involving the bill.
Sen. Sotto, who is opposed to Sen. Hontiveros’ bill, said at least 15 senators have declared that they would not support the SOGIE Equality Bill.
“We have studied this proposition already, there is no need for it. It is redundancy. All Filipinos and everyone in the Philippines are equally protected by equal rights and all the rights that are given any individual in the Philippines. There are enough laws that cover the particular issues that they are talking about,” said Sen. Sotto in a press briefing.
He also insulted the transgender community by saying that the term ‘trans’ does not appear in the dictionary.
“Hindi ko maintindihan kung paano nila nabaluktot yun, na gamitin yun, na naging transgender ang paggamit, yung trans woman, trans man, ikinalulungkot ko, pero hanap ako ng hanap sa dictionary, walang word na trans woman. Lahat ng dictionary hinanap ko, wala. Wala ring trans man. So, saan galing? In other words, nag deviate nang masyado,” he claimed.
(“I don’t understand how they bended that term, how they use transgender as trans woman and trans man. I’m sorry to say this but I’ve been searching the dictionary and I cannot find the word trans woman. There is nothing in all the dictionaries I’ve checked. There is also no trans man. So where did it come from? In other words, it’s deviated too much.”)
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a trans woman as “a woman who was identified as male at birth,” and trans man as “a man who was identified as female at birth.” We wonder which dictionaries Sen. Sotto has been referring to.
Asked to react to Sen. Sotto’s claims, Sen. Hontiveros dared his fellow senators to finally bring the proposed measure to a vote.
“Kung sinasabi po na may majority na laban sa SOGIE Equality Bill, edi dalhin na natin sa botohan, there’s no need, no reason para patagalin pa yung interpellation dito,” Hontiveros told reporters.
(“If they say that there is a majority in the fight for the SOGIE Equality Bill, then let’s just put it to vote. There’s no need, no reason to delay this interpellation.”)
“Tapusin na rin natin yung period of amendments at pagbotohan na natin para masabi natin sa ating publiko kung ano yung fact ng pag-suporta o di suporta ano sense of the Senate dito sa SOGIE Equality Bill.”
(“Let us finish the period of amendments and vote, so that we can tell the public what the facts are in supporting and going against this SOGIE Equality Bill.”)
Based on her conversations with her fellow senators, Sen. Hontiveros said that “we have a strong fighting chance with this SOGIE Equality Bill.”
“I believe lahat kami ay sumusuporta din, na kulang pa yung mga batas para protektahan ang bawa’t Pilipino, lalo immediately yung LGBTQ+ community, laban sa diskriminasyon,” she said.
(“I believe that we are all supportive, and that the laws that are protecting the Filipino people are still lacking—especially the LGBTQ+ community—against discrimination.”)
“Kulang pa ang ating mga batas para sabihin na bawa’t Pilipino, anuman ang ating SOGIE, ay pantay pantay sa ilalim ng batas. This SOGIE Equality Bill will fill the real need of the Filipinos.”
(“We still cannot say that, every Filipino, no matter our SOGIE, is seen as equal under the law. This SOGIE Equality Bill will fill the real need of the Filipinos.”)
It seems that Sen. Sotto still refuses to understand the SOGIE bill, as he said that he is more amenable to the Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill (filed by Sen. Sonny Angara), which seeks to prohibit a wide range of discriminatory acts. Sen. Sotto’s behavior towards the SOGIE bill goes to show that there are still a number of people in the government who turn a blind eye when it comes to the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, and find themselves incapable of understanding their needs and the injustice that that the LGBTQ+ community experience on the basis of their gender identity and orientation.