House passes SOGIE equality bill on final reading

Bea Cupin
House passes SOGIE equality bill on final reading
The landmark bill awaits its counterpart measure from the Senate

MANILA, Philippines – A little over a year after Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman delivered an emotional speech asking fellow lawmakers to support an anti-distrimination bill, the House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 20, passed it on 3rd reading. 

Voting 197-0, “House Bill Number 4982 or An Act Probihiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) and Providing Penalties therefore,” was approved on 3rd and final reading. 

The SOGIE Equality Bill protects people from discriminatory acts such as: 

  • Denial of access to public services
  • Including SOGIE as a criteria for hiring or dismissal of workers
  • Refusing admission or expelling students in schools based on SOGIE
  • Imposing disciplinary actions that are harsher than customary due to the student’s SOGIE
  • Refusing or revoking accreditation of organizations based on the SOGIE of members
  • Denying access to health services
  • Denying the application for professional licenses and similar documents
  • Denying access to establishments, facilities, and services open to the general public
  • Forcing a person to undertake any medical or psychological examination to determine or alter one’s SOGIE
  • Harassment committed by persons involved in law enforcement
  • Publishing information intended to “out” or reveal the SOGIE of a person without consent
  • Engaging in public speech which intends to shame or ridicule LGBTQ+ persons
  • Subjecting persons to harassment motivated by the offenders bias against the offended party’s SOGIE, which may come in the form of any medium, including telecommunications and social media
  • Subjecting any person to gender profiling
  • Preventing a child under parental authority from expressing one’s SOGIE by inflicting or threatening to inflict bodily or physical harm or by causing mental or emotional suffering

Those convicted of discriminating against a person as defined in the bill shall be fined not less than P100,000 but not more than P500,000, or be imprisoned for less than one year but not more than 6 years or both.

A court can also opt to impose community service in the form of human rights education and familiarization with and exposure to the plight of victims,  according to Dinagat Representative Kaka Bag-ao, one of the principal authors of the bill. 

The struggle to push the measure has been long and winding. A version of it was first filed during the 11th Congress by then Akbayan Representative Etta Rosales. It was approved on 3rd and final reading by the House but the Senate failed to do the same. 

In 2006, the bill reached second reading at the House during the 13th Congress.

A similar measure is pending before the Senate. – Rappler.com

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.