Pastor-solon Abante files pro-heterosexual rights bill, but downplays it later

Tha camp of Manila 6th district Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. has downplayed the filing of its very own measure that sought to define and protect the rights of heterosexuals.

Manila 6th district Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. (Facebook)

"While we welcome interest in HB 5717, it is our hope that attention to the other priority measures and advocacies of Rep. Abante is also given, especially those that will have a tremendous impact on the lives of the Filipino people," Abante's office said in a statement Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 9.

The statement was referring to HB No.5717, also known as Act recognizing, defining, and protecting the rights of heterosexuals and for other purpose.

Although he bill was electronically filed by Abante's office last Oct. 26, copies of it only began to emerge online Wednesday morning. It defines heterosexuals as "a person sexually attracted or whose sexual attraction, behavior or desire is directed to a person of the opposite sex".

The five-page measure authored by Abante--a pastor--contains scathing references to members of the lesbians, guys, bisexuals, transgenders, queens, and intersex (LGBTQI) community.

"Rep. Abante has frequently emphasized that his personal beliefs are a reflection of his faith, and that even if there are those who disagree with his positions, he will always respect the beliefs and opinions of others—and will always speak out in defense of equality and human rights," the statement read, seemingly in response to the more controversial remarks in HB No.5717.

"As a legislator and a pastor, Rep. Benny Abante has consistently fought for the welfare of his constituents and stood up for his personal beliefs," it added.

The Abante bill stated the LGBTQI community has been "clamoring for 'legislated rights' and 'state protection' tailored for their specific kind and/or class, all in contravention to God's law of creation and procreation and in utter defiance to His statutes and commandments, and the principles and standards of proper conduct and righteous living that He set for an orderly and morally upright society".

"Thus, bills are now before us that smacks God's laws and standards, particularly on creation, human dignity, and morals...If we allow these bills to become law, these groups of precious souls will be driven away and away from God," it read.

"If, therefore, we seek to 'grant' and/ or 'protect' rights to homosexuals, bisexuals, transgenders, and queers, in the spirit of justice, equity, and fair play, we must also 'grant' and/ or 'protect' rights to heterosexuals who are the actual and direct creations of God," it further read.

The author went on to offer this "advice" in HB No.5717: "The best way to avoid a "perceived" discrimination is to be what God created us to be!"

Abante's colleagues in the House of Representatives took notice of HB No.5717. Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas said: "Individuals who identify themselves as heterosexuals already have their rights protected and enshrined under the Philippine Constitution."

"Moreover, they do not experience discrimination or persecution for their belief, as compared to an overwhelming majority of women and LGBTQIA+ who, for the longest time, are targets of extreme violence and hate crimes," she said.

Persons convicted of violating heterosexuals' rights as per the provisions of HB No.5717 may be sentenced to a jail term of five to seven years, plus a fine of not less than P100,000 and not more than P200,000.

Abante's office, through its statement Wednesday, enumerated the pro-human rights and pro-social services bills that the veteran solon is pursuing in the current 19th Congress.

"Aside from HB 5717, Cong Abante has also filed bills that seek to uphold the rights of all Filipinos. These include priority bills such as HB 118, the Anti Discrimination Act of 2022, which advocates for the equal rights of all, regardless of sex, gender, religion, or race; HB 191, the Geriatric Health Act, which mandates the creation of regional geriatric specialty centers in DOH-retained hospitals; and HB 4543, an Act Increasing and Expanding the Benefits Granted to Senior Citizens," it read.

Abante chairs the House Committee on Human Rights. He was a deputy speaker during the previous 18th Congress.