SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
The House of Representatives unanimously approved on third and final reading this week House Bill 4982 which seeks to prohibit and penalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression (SOGIE).
The bill, otherwise known as the “SOGIE Equality Act” defines “discrimination” as any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference which is based on any ground such as sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, access to enjoyment, or exercise by all persons on an equal footing of all rights and freedoms.
The actual sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression of the person shall not be relevant for the purpose of determining whether an act of discrimination has been committed, the bill provides.
The bill refers to “sexual orientation” as the direction of emotional, sexual attraction, or conduct towards people of the same sex (homosexual orientation) or towards people of both sexes (bisexual orientation) or to the absence of sexual attraction (asexual orientation).
On the other hand, the term “gender identity” refers to the personal sense of identity as characterized, among others, by manner of clothing, inclinations, and behavior in relation to masculine or feminine conventions.
“Gender expression” refers to the way a person communicates gender identity to others through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, communication or speech pattern, or body characteristics.
The measure makes it unlawful for any person, natural or juridical, to engage in discriminatory practices such as:
1. Denying access to public services to any person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression;
2. Including sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, as well as the disclosure of sexual orientation, in the criteria for hiring, promotion, transfer, designation, work assignment, reassignment, dismissal of workers, and other human resource movement and action, performance review, and in the determination of employee compensation, access to career development opportunities, training, and other learning and development interventions, incentives, privileges, benefits or allowances, and other terms and conditions of employment; provided that this provision shall apply to employment and skills training in both the private sector and public service, including the military, police, and other similar services;
3. Refusing admission or expelling a person from any educational or training institution on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, including discriminating against a student or trainee due to the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression of the student’s parents of guardian;
4. Imposing disciplinary sanctions, penalties harsher than customary or similar punishments, requirements, restrictions or prohibitions that infringe on the rights of the students on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, including discriminating against a student or trainee due to the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression of the student’s parents or guardian;
5. Refusing or revoking the accreditation, formal recognition, registration or plan to organize of any organization, group, political party, institution, or establishment in educational institutions, workplaces, communities, and other settings, solely on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression of their members or of their target constituents;
6. Denying a person access to public or private medical and other health services open to the general public on the basis of such person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression;
7. Denying an application for or revoking a professional or other similar kind of license, clearance, certification on, or any other similar document, except marriage license, issued by the government due to the applicant’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression;
8. Denying a person access to or the use of establishments, facilities, utilities, or services, including housing, open to the general public on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression;
9. Subjecting or forcing any person to undertake any medical or psychological examination to determine or alter, or both, the person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression without the expressed approval of the person involved, except in cases where the person involved is a minor and below the age of discernment in which case prior approval of the appropriate Family Court shall be required;
10. Harassment, coercion or threats committed by members of institutions involved in the enforcement of law and the protection of rights of any person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression;
11. Publishing information intended to “out” or reveal the sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity of the persons without their consent, when such has not been made known by the person/s concerned, and has been made with malicious intent or is primarily motivated by a desire for commercial profit;
12. Engaging in public speech, except religious speech meant to shame, insult, vilify, or which tends to incite or normalize the commission of discriminatory practices against LGTBs (lesbians, gays, transgender and bisexual), and which acts or practices in turn, intimidate them or result in the loss of their self-esteem;
13. Subjecting persons or groups of persons to harassment generally defined as such unwanted conduct, pattern of conduct, act, or series of acts which tend to annoy, insult, bully, demean, offend, threaten, intimidate, alarm, or create a hostile or emotionally distressing environment, or put them in fear of their safety; and which behavior is motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias, belief, or perception regarding the offended party’s gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, regardless of whether the belief or perception is correct;
14. Subjecting any person to gender profiling or to any investigatory activities which include (a) unnecessary, unjustified, illegal, or degrading searches to determine whether an individual is engaged in an activity presumed to be unlawful, immoral, or socially unacceptable; and (b) recording and analyzing a person’s psychological and behavioral characteristics to make generalizations about a person’s sexuality or to assist in identifying a particular subgroup of people’s sexual orientation or gender identity;
15. Preventing a child under parental authority, custody, or guardianship from exhibiting or expressing one’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression by inflicting or threatening to inflict bodily or physical harm against the child or by causing mental or emotional suffering of the child through intimidation, harassment, public ridicule or humiliation, repeated verbal abuse, or other similar means or, in general, commit any act or omission prejudicial to the welfare and interest of the child as a result of the bias against the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child; and;
16. Subjecting a person to any other analogous acts that shall have the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the enjoyment, recognition, or exercise of a person’s rights and freedoms.
The bill provides no person shall be burdened, prejudiced, or prosecuted by reason of the exercise of the rights to personal privacy.
It further states that refusal of a government official whose duty is to investigate, prosecute, or otherwise act on a complaint for a violation of this Act or causing unreasonable delay to perform such a duty without a valid ground shall constitute gross negligence on the part of the official who shall suffer the appropriate penalty under civil service laws, rules and regulations.
The measure provides the penalty of a fine of P100,000 to P500,000, or imprisonment of one year to six years or both, at the discretion of the court upon conviction on any person who commits any of the said discriminatory practices.
If the violation or offense is committed by a corporation, partnership, association or other juridical entities, the penalty provided for said discriminatory practices shall be imposed upon the directors, officers, employees or other officials or persons therein responsible for the offense without prejudice to the civil liabilities arising from the criminal offense.
If a graver offense motivated by bias, prejudice, or hatred against sexual orientation or gender identity or expression is committed, such shall be meted the corresponding maximum penalties.
Any action arising from the violation of the provisions as provided under this Act shall prescribe in three years.
The Women and Children’s Desks now existing in all police stations shall be renamed as Women, Children and LGBT++ Protection Desk, which shall also act on and attend to complaints/cases covered by this Act.
For the effective implementation of this Act, there shall be created a Congressional Oversight Committee to be referred as the SOGIE Equality Oversight Committee, within 60 days after the enactment of this Act.
The SOGIE Equality Oversight Committee shall be composed of five members each from the Senate and House of Representatives, which shall include the Chairpersons of the Senate Committees on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality, and of Justice and Human Rights, and the Chairpersons of the House of Representatives Committees on Women and Gender Equality, and of Human Rights.
The members from the Senate and the House of Representatives shall be appointed by the Senate President and the Speaker, respectively, with at least one member representing the minority.
The SOGIE Equality Oversight Committee shall be chaired jointly by the Chairpersons of the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality and the House of Representatives Committee on Women and Gender Equality.
The position of Vice Chairperson of the SOGIE Equality Oversight Committee shall be jointly held by the Chairpersons of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights and the House Committee on Human Rights.
The Secretariat of the SOGIE Equality Oversight Committee shall come from the Secretariat personnel of the Senate and the House of Representatives committees concerned.
The SOGIE Equality Oversight Committee shall monitor the compliance of public institutions to the provisions of this Act.
Within three years after the enactment of the ACT, the SOGIE Equality Oversight Committee shall conduct an audit of national and local policies that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, and shall submit a report to Congress, the Office of the President, and the Supreme Court on this subject.
The bill is authored by Reps. Kaka Bag-ao (Lone District, Dinagat islands), Geraldine Roman (1st District, Bataan), Rosenda Ann Ocampo (6th District, Manila), Winston Castelo (2nd District, Quezon City), Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr. (Lone District, Ifugao), Salvador Belaro Jr. (Party-list, 1-ANG EDUKASYON), Sol Aragones (3rd District, Laguna), Linabelle Ruth Villarica (4th District, Bulacan), Tom Villarin (Party-list, AKBAYAN), Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (Party-list, DIWA), Carlos Isagani Zarate (Party-list, BAYAN MUNA), Pantaleon Alvarez (1st District, Davao del Norte), Rodolfo Fariñas (1st District, Ilocos Norte), Juan Pablo Bondoc (4th District, Pampanga), Christopher De Venecia (4th District, Pangasinan), Henedina Abad (Lone District, Batanes), Henry Ong (2nd District, Leyte), Jorge Banal (3rd District, Quezon City), Arthur Defensor Jr. (3rd District, Iloilo), Victoria Isabel Noel (Party-list AN WARAY), Sharon Garin (Party-list, AAMBIS-OWA), Nancy Catamco (2nd District, North Cotabato), Raul Tupas (5th District, Iloilo), Gabriel Bordado Jr. (3rd District, Camarines Sur), Jose Christopher Belmonte (6th District, Quezon City), Xavier Jesus Romualdo (Lone District, Camiguin), Lawrence Fortun (1st District, Agusan del Norte), Sitti Djalia Turabin-Hataman (Party-list, AMIN), Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba (1st District, Bukidnon), Mercedes Alvarez (6th District, Negros Occidental), Yedda Marie Romualdez (1st District, Leyte), Juliet Marie Ferrer (4th District, Negros Occidental), Cristal Bagatsing (5th District, Manila), Cristina Roa-Puno (1st District, Antipolo City), Lorna Silverio (3rd District, Bulacan), Aileen Radaza (Lone District, Lapu-Lapu City), Lorna Bautista-Bandigan (Lone District, Davao Occidental), Michelle Antonio (Party-list, AGBIAG), Ma. Lourdes Aggabao (4th District, Isabela), Ann Hofer (2nd District, Zamboanga Sibugay), Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado (1st District, Bulacan), Rogelio Pacquiao (Lone District, Sarangani), Arlene Arcillas (1st District, Laguna), Gwendolyn Garcia (3rd District, Cebu), Marlyn Alonte (Lone District, Biñan City), Jennifer Barzaga (4th District, Cavite), Edgar Sarmiento (1st District, Samar), John Marvin Nieto (3rd District, Manila), Raul Daza (1st District, Northern Samar), Cheryl Deloso-Montalla (2nd District, Zambales), Edward Maceda (4th District, Manila), Ana Cristina Go (2nd District, Isabela), Vilma Santos-Recto (6th District, Batangas), Arthur Salimbangon (4th District, Cebu), Romero Quimbo (2nd District, Marikina City), Alfred Vargas (5th District, Quezon City), Tricia Nicole Velasco-Catera (Party-list, MATA), Arnulfo Teves Jr. (3rd District, Negros Oriental), Eric Olivarez (1st District, Parañaque City), Rodolfo Albano III (1st District, Isabela), Joel Mayo Almario (2nd District, Davao Oriental), Jorge Almonte (1st District, Misamis Occidental), Isagani Amatong (3rd District, Zamboanga del Norte), Rolando Andaya Jr. (1st District, Camarines Sur), Bellaflor Angara-Castillo (Lone District, Aurora), Rozzano Rufino Biazon (Lone District, Muntinlupa City), Emmanuel Billones (1st District, Capiz), Lianda Bolilia (4th District, Batangas), Anthony Bravo (Party-list, COOP-NATCCO), Mercedes Cagas (lone District, Davao del Sur), Peter John Calderon (7th District, Cebu), Wilfredo Caminero (2nd District, Cebu), Sabiniano Canama (Party-list, COOP-NATCCO), Fredenil Castro (2nd District, Capiz), Arnel Cerafica (1st District, Taguig City-Pateros), Cecilia Leonila Chavez (Party-list, BUTIL), Ma. Theresa Collantes (3rd District, Batangas), Jonas Cortes (6th District, Cebu), Julieta Cortuna (Party-list, A TEACHER), Leo Rafael Cueva (2nd District, Negros Occidental), Raul Del Mar (1st District, Cebu City), Mohammad Khalid Dimaporo (1st District, Lanao del Norte), Ramon Durano VI (5th District, Cebu), Anna Katrina Enverga (1st District, Quezon), Edgar Erice (2nd District, Caloocan City), Sandra Eriguel (2nd District, La Union), Bayani Fernando (1st District, Marikina City), Antonio Floirendo (2nd District, Davao del Norte), Florencio Flores Jr. (2nd District, Bukidnon), Wes Gatchalian (1st District, Valenzuela City), Fernando Gonzalez (3rd District, Albay), Arcadio Gorriceta (2nd District, Iloilo), Gerald Anthony Gullas (1st District, Cebu), Bernadette Herrera-Dy (Party-list, BAGONG HENERASYON), Elisa Kho (2nd District, Masbate), Glona Labadlabad (2nd District, Zamboanga del Norte), Virgilio Lacson (Party-list, MANILA TEACHERS), Dennis Laogan Party-list, ANG KABUHAYAN), Carmelo Lazatin (1st District, Pampanga), Benhur Lopez (Party-list, YACAP), Carlo Lopez (2nd District, Manila), Manuel Luis Lopez (1st District, Manila), Jesulito Manalo (Party-list, ANGKLA), Carlito Marquez (Lone District, Aklan), Eric Martinez (2nd District, Valenzuela City), Alejandro Mirasol (5th District, Negros Occidental), Jericho Jonas Nograles (Party-list PBA), Henry Oaminal (2nd District, Misamis Occidental), Pablo Ortega (1st District, La Union), Vini Nola Ortega (Party-list, ABONO), Mirasol Panotes (2nd District, Camarines Norte), Isidro Rodriguez Jr. (2nd District, Rizal), Michael Romero (Party-list, 1-PACMAN), Ron Salo (Party-list, KABAYAN), Jpsephine Ramirez-Sato (Lone District, Occidental Mindoro), Deogracias Victor Savellano (1st District, Ilocos Sur), Frederick Siao (Lone District, Iligan City), Eric Singson (2nd District, Ilocos Sur), Tobias Tiangco (Lone District, Navotas City), Antonio Tinio (Party-list, ACT TEACHERS), Alberto Ungab (3rd District, Davao City), Juliette Uy (2nd District, Misamis Oriental), Rolando Uy (1st District, Cagayan de Oro City), Pedro Acharon Jr. (1st District, South Cotabato and General Santos City), Teodoro Montoro (Party-list, AASENSO), Anna Marie Villaraza-Suarez (Party-list, ALONA), Manuel Monsour Del Rosario III (1st District, Makati City), Edcel Lagman (1st District, Albay), Ma. Lucille Nava (Lone District, Guimaras), Carlos Roman Uybaretta (Party-list, 1-CARE), Jerry Treñas (Lone District, Iloilo City), Rene Relampagos (1st District, Bohol), Manuel Jose Dalipe (2nd District, Zamboanga City), Jose Panganiban Jr. (Party-list, ANAC-IP), Pia Cayetano (2nd District, Taguig City-Pateros), Joseph Bernos (Lone District, Abra), Emmi De Jesus (Party-list GABRIELA), Arlene Brosas (Party-list, GABRIELA), Micaela Violago (2nd District, Nueva Ecija), Roger Mercado (Lone District, Southern Leyte), France Castro (Party-list, ACT TEACHERS), Estrellita Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija), Jocelyn Limkaichong (1st District, Negros Oriental), Ramon Rocamora (Lone District, Siquijor), Gus Tambunting (2nd District, Parañaque City), Ricardo Belmonte (Party-list, SERBISYO SA BAYAN), Rosanna Vergara (3rd District, Nueva Ecija), Emi Calixto-Rubiano (Lone District, Pasay City), Ben Evardone (Lone District, Eastern Samar), Florida Robes (Lone District, San Jose del Monte City), Rico Geron (Party-list, AGAP), Gavini Pancho (2nd District, Bulacan), Maria Carmen Zamora (1st District, Compostela Valley), Ruwel Peter Gonzaga (2nd District, Compostela Valley), Shernee Tan (Party-list, KUSUG TAUSUG), Cesar Sarmiento (Lone District, Catanduanes), Manuel Sagarbarria (2nd District, Negros Oriental) and Danilo Suarez (3rd District, Quezon). / MVIP