Duterte meets with trans woman Gretchen Diez, vows to push for SOGIE Equality Bill passage

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 20) — The meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and transgender woman Gretchen Diez on Monday was a step towards equality for the members of the LGBTQ+ community, both camps said.

Duterte met in Malacanang Palace with Diez, a trans woman who was barred from using the women's restroom in a Cubao mall and arrested for videotaping the incident. They were joined by LGBTQ+ champions including Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman, the first transgender person elected in the Philippine Congress.

Diez said the meeting was fruitful, hinting there are actions that will shock the public.

"Positive feedback from the President. After two decades, the LGBTQ+ community finally sees the light at the end of the tunnel. Many confidential actions were drafted that are guaranteed to astonish the public," she said in a text message to CNN Philippines.

Senator and former presidential aide Bong Go also shared highlights from the meeting, including several proposals to prevent the discrimination of the queer community. He quoted Duterte as saying he will work to push Congress to finally pass the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill.

Presidential Spokesperson Sal Panelo said Duterte wants separate restrooms for the queer community.

Diez earlier urged Duterte to certify the SOGIE Equality Bill as urgent, but Panelo said he can't say if it will be certified as urgent . It was passed by the House of Representatives in the previous Congress, but was blocked from passing in the Senate by senators who repeatedly insisted to interpellate proponents of the proposed law.

Go added that one proposal was to create a commission for the LGBTQ+ pending the enactment of the SOGIE bill.

He said the Duterte administration, with the help of LGBTQ+ groups, is also looking to organize a national convention for members of the community to air their concerns and come up with policy proposals to promote and protect their welfare.

"The LGBTQ advocates expressed their gratitude after the meeting and are looking forward to the passage of a law that will protect them from discrimination before the President’s term ends," the senator said in a statement.