What does Mandaue's LGBT ordinance mean for gender rights?

'HISTORIC.' Advocates herald Mandaue's city ordinance as 'historic' for providing protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Image courtesy of the Mandaue Public Information Office

MANILA, Philippines – The city council of Mandaue in Cebu province passed a comprehensive lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) code on February 11.

Advocates described it as historic and a step towards greater protection for LGBT community. 

The landmark ordinance is based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE), a first in the country.

It protects the LGBT community's rights based on the Philippine Constitution's Bill of Rights, existing laws, and international conventions, according to Mandaue's Public Information Office.

Step in the right direction

Isaac Saguit of UP Ligaya, a University of the Philippines Cebu’s campus-based organization promoting LGBT rights, said “the passage of the LGBT Code is not just a victory for the LGBT community in Mandaue but of the entire LGBT community."

"This only reflects the openness of our society to laws which specifically protect our rights and welfare, giving all of us hope for the passing of more laws, even a marriage equality law, in the near future," he added.

Mandaue City Treasurer Regal Oliva, one of the measure's champions, said the ordinance would protect LGBT workers.

Long way to go

Only a few cities in the Philippines enacted ordinances designed to protect the rights of the LGBT community. (READ: Is the Philippines really gay-friendly?)

In 2012, Davao City passed an ordinance protecting minority groups and persons with disabilities (PWD). Meanwhile, Quezon City’s Gender-Fair ordinance was passed back in September  2014.

Quezon City's ordinance seeks to “eliminate all forms of discrimination that offend the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution, and other existing laws to value the dignity of every person, guarantee full respect for human rights, and give the highest priority to measures that protect and enhance the right of all people."

Other cities with similar ordinances are Angeles, Antipolo, Bacolod, Candon, Cebu, Dagupan, Vigan, and Cavite.

At the national level, House Bill 5687 or the Anti-Discrimination Bill is still pending in Congresss. (READ: The long road to an LGBT anti-discrimination law)

The proposed measure focuses on establishing a legal definition for “sexual orientation” and gender identity while protecting individuals and groups that belong to the LGBT community from all forms of discrimination – employment, education, accommodation, and the delivery of goods and services.

Another city going “gay-friendly” proves that the optimism of the LGBT community in this country is not misguided. Mandaue City is a small victory for a community whose members fight battles for acceptance each day at work, at home, and in society. – with reports from Arby Medina and Bea Orante/Rappler.com

Arby Medina is a Rappler intern. He is a 5th-year student of AB Political Science at the De La Salle University.