Sotto says SOGIE bill has 'no chance' of passing Senate

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Senate President Vicente Sotto III told reporters on Wednesday evening, August 21, that the SOGIE (sexual orientation and gender identity and expression) equality bill has "no chance" of hurdling the upper chamber.

Asked whether the SOGIE bill will be approved in the Senate, Sotto said that an anti-discrimination bill that includes other sectors of society might have a better chance of passing.

"Anti-discrimination on persons, p'wede. [P]ero focused on gays, which the SOGIE bill is, and religious and academic freedom impeded; plus smuggling of same-sex marriage? No chance!" Sotto said.

(The anti-discrimination on persons [in general] might be approved. But if focused on gays, which the SOGIE bill is, and religious and academic freedom impeded; plus smuggling of same-sex marriage? No chance!)

Sotto echoed the stance of other lawmakers who said they would approve of the proposed measure if it covers other sectors. (READ: Pimentel questions need for SOGIE bill)

Three senators filed their own versions of the SOGIE equality bill: Senator Risa Hontiveros, Senator Imee Marcos, and Senator Francis Pangilinan. 

Other lawmakers expressed reservations on the proposed measures, raising concerns that voyeurs would take advantage of the measure to enter women's restrooms. (EXPLAINER: What you need to know about SOGIE)

In an interview with reporters on Thursday, August 22, Sotto clarified his statement and said that the bill has no chance if "it transgresses on academic freedom, religious freedom, and women’s rights."

The Senate President said that the proposed measure is "subject to abuse," especially when it comes to transgenders using the toilet of their identified gender.

"Hindi ba discrimination 'yung doon sa amin sa mga straight, kapag nandoon sila sa toilet at sinabi nila, at pinupuna nila, sila nadi-discriminate 'pag umangal sila eh, 'di ba? Baligtad eh," Sotto said.

(Isn't it discrimination too for us straights, when they (transgenders) are inside the toilet and if we complain, we're being discriminated because we complain, right? It's the reverse now.)

The Senate President reiterated his earlier stance that restrooms are "biology-based."

"Kaya kung ikaw mayroon kang sandata, hindi ka dapat doon nagsi-CR. You go to the men’s room," Sotto said.

(If you have male genitals, you shouldn't use the ladies' CR. You go to the men's room.)

But more than the use of restrooms, advocates and allies of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community have noted that they just want the rights of the LGBTQ+ to be recognized.

Hontiveros, chair of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality, said that the SOGIE bill aims to be the Magna Carta for the LGBTQ+.

In the 17th Congress, the House of Representatives passed the SOGIE bill on third and final reading but its counterpart measure languished in the Senate and did not even make it past second reading.  Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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