House panel okays bill against sex and gender discrimination

By , on June 26, 2015


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MANILA — The Committee on Women and Gender Equality in the House of Representatives approved the bill that aims to eliminate discriminatory practices based on sex, sexual orientation or gender identity by proscribing and penalizing discriminatory practices.

“It is a basic right of every person, whether they are bisexual, homosexual, or heterosexual, to be free from any form of discrimination. As a representative of a marginalized group in Congress and as a woman, I support House Bill 5687 and I push for equal opportunity for all,” said AAMBIS-Owa Party list Rep. Sharon Garin, one of the sponsors of the measure.

Just last Saturday night, Valkyrie, a high-end lounge and bar in Taguig City drew flak from netizens and known personalities after the bar denied entry to transgender fashion designer Veejay Floresca. Concerned netizens asserted that the incident was a clear case of gender discrimination.

READ: Transgender, advocates question ‘no crossdresser policy’

If HB 5687 becomes the Anti-SOGI Discrimination Act, it shall be unlawful for employers to include sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as the disclosure of sexual orientation, in the criteria for hiring, promotion, transfer, work assignment, dismissal of workers, and other human resource movement and other terms and conditions of employment.

Schools are not to refuse admission or expel a person from any educational or training institution on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Any person shall not be denied of access to public or private medical and other health services open to the general public on the basis of such person’s sexual orientation or gender identity;

Government shall ensure that no one will be denied of a professional license, clearance certification or any other similar document issued by the government due to the applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Harassment by members of institutions involved in the enforcement of law and the protection of rights of any person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity shall be met with a penalty.

READ: Vice Ganda on Valkyrie’s ‘no crossdressing’ policy

Any person who commits any SOGI-related discriminatory practice shall be penalized by a fine of not less than One hundred thousand pesos (P100,000) and / or imprisonment of not less than one (1) year but not more than six (6) years, at the discretion of the court.

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.

If a graver offense motivated by bias, prejudice, or hatred against sexual orientation or gender identity is committed, such shall be meted the corresponding maximum penalties depending on the severity of the offenses.

Once the bill becomes a law, the Women and Children’s Desks now existing in all police stations, shall also act on and attend to complaints covered by the Anti-SOGI Act.

Policemen manning those 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.

In crafting the measure, women’s groups, LGBT communities, business groups, members of the academe, other stakeholders, and government officials were consulted for months by the Women and Gender Equality Committee chaired by Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica.