Sotto gives SOGIE bill ‘no chance’ in getting Senate nod

Published August 22, 2019, 8:59 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

An anti-discrimination bill dedicated for members of the lesbian, gays, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) community has “no chance” of hurdling the Senate, said Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Vicente Sotto III
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Sotto declared this a day after the Senate committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality started tackling the proposed law seeking to prohibit and penalize discriminatory acts based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, or the SOGIE Equality Bill.

“Anti-discrimination [bill] on persons pwede, pero focused on gays, which the SOGIE bill is, and religious and academic freedom impeded, plus smuggling of same-sex marriage? No chance!” the Senate chief told reporters in a text message Wednesday night.

Sotto has been vocal about his reservations about the SOGIE bill, saying in a radio interview last August 19 that this might impinge on the rights of religious and educational institutions that ban cross-dressing.

He said the bill may also be “discriminatory against women” who feel uncomfortable sharing facilities with LGBTQs.

He also opposed the provision in the measure which includes in the discriminatory practices the denial or revocation of government licenses, certification or similar documents necessary for a profession, business, and other legitimate reasons, based on SOGIE, saying this may pave the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“Anong ibig sabihin nun? Saan papunta ‘yon?…Pagbabawalan at merong penalty na kulong o malaking penalty kapag ikaw ay hindi ka nagbigay ng marriage license, kapag nag discriminate ka sa gender ng humihingi sayo ng marriage license. Ano tawag mo doon?” Sotto told the DZMM.

(What does that mean? Where will that lead to? It will prohibit and penalize with imprisonment or hefty fine on someone who refuses to grant marriage licenses and discriminate against the SOGIE of the requesting person. What do you call that?)

According to Sotto, these were some of the reasons why the SOGIE bill languished in the Upper Chamber in the previous Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier said that a “comprehensive” anti-discrimination bill for all sectors has better chances of approval in Senate.

Advocates of the SOGIE Equality Bill, on the other hand, insisted that the measure does not seek to impede on the rights of others. At the Senate hearing last Tuesday, they lamented the forms of discrimination being suffered by LGBTQs in schools, workplaces and other areas.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, chair of gender equality committee and staunch SOGIE proponent, had also assured that the bill will not make legal the marriage of LGBTQ+ couples.

In the 18th Congress, there are five anti-discrimination bills filed, three of which – filed by Hontiveros, Sen. Imee Marcos, and Sen. Francis Pangilinan – particularly addressing SOGIE discrimination.

The other two, meanwhile, sought to include discrimination based on religious belief, race, ethnicity, and social class, among others, aside from SOGIE. These were filed by Sens. Sonny Angara and Grace Poe.

All the five bills, however, included the provisions flagged by Sotto.