Fire janitress? LGBTQ+ party calls for SOGIE awareness instead
MANILA, Philippines – Should the janitress of the mall who stopped transgender woman Gretchen Custodio Diez from entering the women’s bathroom in a Quezon City mall be fired after the incident?
LGBTQ+ Partylist slammed the notion, pointing out how the incident only showed a need to improve training and education about sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) in the Philippines during a protest outside Farmers Plaza on Wednesday, August 14.
They added that Araneta Center should be held accountable for the incident and emphasized its role in making public spaces free from discrimination and harassment against LGBTQ+ by providing adequate SOGIE trainings to its employees.
“Hindi natin kinokondena si Ate Janitress, kinokondena at gusto natin panagutin ang Araneta management dahil una nga po, nakakagalit po ang pag aresto kay Gretchen Custodio...Lapastangan ito sa karapatang pantao ng ating mga LGBTQ+,” Danmer John de Guzman, the spokesperson of LGBTQ+ Partylist, said.
(We are not condemning the janitress; we’re condemning and holding the Araneta management accountable because firstly, the arrest of Gretchen Custodio is infuriating... This is trampling on the rights of the LGBTQ+.)
The day prior, the janitress of the mall stopped Diez from entering the women’s bathroom, insisting she use the men’s restroom instead. Diez tried to document the harassment. This angered the janitress enough to have Diez arrested.
Farmers Plaza has distanced its mall from the janitress at the center of the issue, Chayra Ganal, who has since then personally apologized for her action.
“Ang panawagan natin sa Araneta management: Huwag po natin tanggalin si Ate Janitress. Kung hindi, bigyan ng malawak na pag-unawa at seminar sa isyu ng sexual orientation and gender expression,” De Guzman added.
(Our call to the Araneta management: Don’t fire the janitress. Instead, provide a wider understanding and hold a seminar on the issue of sexual orientation and gender expression.)
LGBTQ+ Partylist chairperson Bing Concepcion stressed that Diez’ arrest in Quezon City, an area which has had a Gender Fair Ordinance since 2014, shows that the ordinance needs to be implemented better to improve SOGIE awareness both in the area and in the Philippines. Businesses and workplaces especially have a role in making their employees more aware about SOGIE.
“You are in a hospitality and service business. Dahil kayo, negosyo niyo 'yan, you have to provide proper education and training sa mga tauhan ninyo...2014 pa 'yung ordinansa na ito naipasa, 2019 na po. Lahat tayo kailangan maging aware sa mga pagbabago nangyayari sa ating mga batas,” she said.
(You are in a hospitality and service business. Because it’s your business, you have to provide proper education and training for your employees...the ordinance was passed in 2014, it’s already 2019. We all need to be aware about the changes in our laws.)
Taking off from the incident, LGBTQ+ Partylist echoed calls for the passage of the SOGIE equality bill, which aims to protect people from discriminatory acts.
In the 17th Congress, the House of Representatives passed the SOGIE equality bill on the third and final reading. Its counterpart measure languished in the Senate and did not even make it past the second reading.
They also called on Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte to enforce a stricter implementation of its Gender Fair Ordinance.
Belmonte has since ordered the Quezon City Business Permit and Licensing Department (BPLD) to check the city's establishments' compliance with the ordinance.
“Nanawagan na din tayo sa mga kongresista at senador na panahon na ngayon na ipasa ang mas matibay at may pangil na batas. Ito po ang ating panawagan kay Mayor Joy Belmonte, isabatas po lagyan ng pangil ang implementation rules and regulations ng ating gender equality ordinance sa Quezon City,” said De Guzman.
(We remind our congressmen and senators that it’s time to pass a stronger and more effective law. This is our call to Mayor Joy Belmonte, to enforce and give more teeth to the implementation of the rules and regulations of our gender equality ordinance in Quezon City.)
Annie Alejo, the public relations manager of Araneta Center, said that their management conducts trainings for employees on how to treat customers, though they’re not specifically focused on SOGIE.
“Hindi pa specific on that pero usually how to treat customers and papasok din kasi doon yun, pati PWDs (persons with disabilities) and the elderly. 'Yung training po namin although hindi specifically sa mga sitwasyon na ganyan, but we do train them to treat people the way we want to be treated...I guess narealize din namin that we still really need to step up,” she said.
(It’s not specifically on that but it’s usually about how to treat customers and PWDs and the elderly also fall under this [training]. Although it’s not specifically for situations like that, we do train them to treat people the way we want to be treated... I guess we realized that we still really need to step up.)
In its statement, the management vowed to “improve” the training of their personnel. – Rappler.com