Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte on Wednesday, August 14, said the mall in Cubao that barred a transgender woman from using its comfort room for females violated the city’s Gender Fair Ordinance which aims to defend members of the LGBTQ+ community from any form of discrimination.
“Malinaw na hindi sumusunod ang Farmers Mall sa nasabing ordinansa kung saan lahat ng government offices, private, at commercial establishments ay dapat magtalaga ng “All-Gender Toilets” para sa lahat (Farmers Mall clearly violated the ordinance which states that all government offices, private, and commercial establishments should install “All-Gender Toilets” for all),” Belmonte wrote in a Facebook post.
On Tuesday, Gretchen Custodio Diez, 28, was prevented by the mall’s janitress from using the women’s restroom and was told to go to the men’s restroom instead. Diez was able to record the incident via Facebook live video that irked the janitress.
Diez was then handcuffed and brought to the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Station 7 for unjust vexation complaint filed by the mall’s management against her which stemmed from her video recording of the incident, according to reports. Diez was later on released when the charges against her were dropped. The janitress also wrote an apology letter to the transgender woman, saying, “Tao lang po ako hindi ko po sinasadya na ma-offend siya. Willing po akong pag-aralan ang mga karapatan ng LGBT (I’m just a human. I did not intend to offend her. I’m willing to study the rights of the LGBT).”
The mayor condemned this and ordered the Business Permit and Licensing Department to ensure that all business establishments are complying to the city’s Gender Fair Ordinance.
“We assure the members of the LGBT+ community that Quezon City (QC) will always protect their rights and be a home for their sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression,” she said.
“We do not support any kind of violence and discrimination in our city. Sa ating LGBT+ community, protektado ang karapatan ninyo sa QC (To our LGBT+ community, your rights are protected in QC),” she added.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, the author of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill, earlier denounced the incident which she said was “unacceptable.”
“She is being harassed for living her truth. Discrimination against transgender people has to stop,” she said.
Many netizens were also enraged over Diez’s experience in the mall, making the hashtag #SOGIEEqualityNow one of the trending topics on Twitter Philippines as they called for the passage of the measure.
In an interview with Unang Balita, also on Wednesday, Diez said she is determined to sue the mall’s management.
“Sure po ako (I’m sure), one hundred percent in my heart, ipu-push ko ‘yung (I will file the) case against the management of that mall at ‘yun din pong mga defamation na nangyari po sa’kin nakita naman po sa video ko (and the defamation that happened to me which was seen in my video),” she said.
On her Facebook post, Diez said she will be updating the public on when her camp will be filing the charges.
“May pina-finalize lang po ‘yung legal team ko (My legal team is still finalizing something). We just have to be certain with our next moves,” she wrote.