Transgender lawmaker: SOGIE bill delaying tactics pathetic, desperate

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 17) — A lawmaker on Friday called as pathetic and desperate efforts to delay the bill penalizing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

“There is nothing to fear and delaying tactics really have no place in both houses of Congress. Napaka-pathetic naman non, napaka-desperate (That is so pathetic, so desperate),” House committee on women and gender equality chairperson Geraldine Roman told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

The Bataan lawmaker herself is the country’s first transgender politician elected in the country.

Roman said so-called delaying tactics are “indicative of the lack of one’s capacity to engage in debate.”

On Feb. 8, CIBAC party-list Rep. Eddie Villanueva and his son Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva both raised their concerns on the bill. 

In the House of Representatives, the founder of the Jesus Is Lord movement disrupted a hearing by Roman’s committee on the bill, calling it illegal and forum shopping.

Villanueva also said he had a pending appeal to have the bill transferred to the committee on human rights since it held initial deliberation on comprehensive anti-discrimination proposals, including provisions in the SOGIESC bill.

Roman then said the committee on rules told her that the proposed measure would remain in her panel.

At the Senate plenary session, the younger Villanueva clashed with bill proponent Sen. Risa Hontiveros. Villanueva said he received complaints from a number of religious groups that said they were not consulted about the bill.

He said such concerns need “further study” by his committee on rules, which was approved during the session.

READ: Villanueva accuses SOGIE bill advocates of same-sex marriage agenda

The bill has been pending in Congress for more than two decades.

Roman said the measure is not pushing for same sex marriage, as it is the fair issuance of professional licenses, which does not refer to a marriage license.

She also expressed concern on the call of some lawmakers to consolidate the SOGIESC bill with the comprehensive anti-discrimination bills because "SOGIE is also a protected attribute," or it is a possible ground for discrimination.

"But when I go monitor the hearings in the [House] committee on human rights on the comprehensive anti-discrimination bill, one thing is obvious, they always and consistently try to remove sexual orientation and gender identity and expression as a protected attribute," she pointed out. "So where does that leave us? Really nowhere."

With the bill transferred to the rules committee in the Senate, Roman said Villanueva will either tackle this in a timely and intelligent manner, or just sit on it.

The Bataan lawmaker said she hopes to raise the issue to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and “remind him that discrimination should have no place in our country.”

Advocates of the bill are urging the chief executive to state his position on the issue.

A second hearing on the SOGIESC bill will be held in the House, Roman said.

She said she hopes to form a technical working group before Congress goes on recess next month.