Most Filipinos want law vs LGBTQ+ discrimination, but still against pro-trans policies

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A majority of Filipinos believe that there should be a law that specifically protects LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, but do not agree with some policies that would favor trans women. (CNN Philippines Life)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 30) — A majority of Filipinos believe there should be a law that specifically protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ+) people from discrimination, but did not agree with some policies that would favor trans women.

A new Social Weather Stations (SWS) poll released Wednesday showed that 27 percent of Filipinos “strongly agree” that there should be a law that shields LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, while 28 percent “somewhat agree” with it.

Only 16 percent strongly disagreed, while 10 percent said they somewhat disagreed. Eighteen percent were undecided.

Most Filipinos also said LGBTQ+ people experience too much discrimination, with 33 percent strongly agreeing to the statement and 27 percent saying they somewhat agreed with it.

Despite majority opinion favoring an anti-discrimination law for LGBTQ+ people, most also said they oppose trans women in female restrooms.

Forty-seven percent said they strongly disagree with allowing trans women in female restrooms, while 13 percent somewhat disagree with the statement.

Only 15 percent strongly agree with allowing them in female restrooms, while 17 percent said they somewhat agree with it.

READ: Debunking myths about the LGBTQ+ bathroom debate

Most Filipinos also do not want transgender people to be allowed to change their identities in official documents, with 48 percent strongly opposing the idea and a further 16 percent saying they somewhat opposed it.

The survey revealed that Mindanao residents, those aged 55 and above, have at least a college education and are Muslim are most likely to disagree to policies in favor of trans people.

But despite the overwhelming disagreement to pro-transgender policies, most Filipinos do not believe that trans people have mental illnesses and most also do not believe that they are committing a sin.

The SWS surveyed 1,800 people from September 27 to 30, a month after trans woman Gretchen Diez made headlines for being barred by mall janitress from using the women’s restroom.

Diez was arrested for unjust vexation — a charge later dropped by the janitress.

She was also invited to the Senate hearing on the proposed bill that bans discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE) and met with President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang.

The measure, also called the SOGIE Equality Bill, cleared the House of Representatives in the 17th Congress but died in the Senate as senators blocked its passage by debating on the measure until the legislature adjourned.

It was refiled in both chambers in the 18th Congress. The Senate is still not budging from its position in the previous Congress, if its president — Vicente “Tito” Sotto III — is to be believed.

Malacañang has said that Duterte is willing to certify a bill that bans discrimination, but not a legislation that specifically prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.

The anti-discrimination bill, popularly known as the SOGIE Equality Bill, is currently at the committee level in both the House and the Senate.

It seeks to penalize those who commit discriminatory acts against LGBTQ+ Filipinos, with fines of not less than ₱100,000 but not more than ₱500,000, or imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years or both, depending on the court's decision.

A 2017 Human Rights Watch report found that only 15 percent of Filipinos reside in areas protected by ordinances against discrimination based on SOGIE.

The same report also said that Filipino LGBTQ+ students “continue to experience bullying and harassment in school” from their peers and teachers.

A joint 2014 study by the United States Agency for International Development and the United Nations Development Program found evidence of discrimination against LGBTQ+ people in schools, at work and in their communities.