Sen. Lapid not likely to support SOGIE Equality Bill

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 20) — Senator Lito Lapid on Tuesday said he is not inclined to vote for the passage of the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression) Equality Bill that protects Filipino members of the LGBTQIA+ community against against sex- and gender-based discrimination.

He said the Philippines has survived without a national law that protects the rights of the queer community, saying local government units can craft their own ordinances to address the issue.

"Pinag-aaralan pa namin kasi parang may masasagasaan ka diyan, kasi dati namang wala 'yan eh... Kaya naman solusyonan ng mga local 'yun," he said in a chance interview.

[Translation: We are still studying it because it will not be at the best interest of everyone. We have survived without it. The lack of a law can be solved through local ordinances.]

When asked point blank if he's not likely to support the bill once it's tackled in the Senate, he said, "Hindi na siguro." [Translation: Most likely not.]

The former actor said the discussion about the rights of the queer community was magnified because of the arrest of transgender woman Gretchen Diez. She was barred by a cleaning staff from using the women's restroom in a Cubao mall and arrested for videotaping the incident on August 13.

"Napalaki lang kasi may naagrabyado, hindi alam na may batas pala. Siguro kung alam nung janitress na may batas at security, irerespeto naman," he said.

[Translation: It was magnified because someone was aggrieved. But the janitress and security personnel did not know there was an ordinance. If they were aware, they'd respect it.]

Despite his seeming aversion to SOGIE bill, he backed the creation of a third — even a fourth — restroom for the LGBTQIA+ community.

"Iba-iba, bale apat na 'yan. Babae, lalaki, bakla, tomboy," he said.

[Translation: It could be different, there should be four. Women, Men, Gay and Lesbian.]

He added mall owners can afford building more restrooms to accommodate the queer community.

"Mga bilyonaryo nga 'yan. Kaya nila magpatayo ng sariling kubeta," he said.

[Translation: They are billionaires. They can afford to build their own toilets.]

President Rodrigo Duterte will push Congress to finally pass the SOGIE bill, Senator Bong Go said. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives in the previous Congress but was blocked in the Senate.

CNN Philippines correspondent Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.