Lapu-Lapu City

Lapu-Lapu’s new law provides strict protections vs LGBTQ+ discrimination

John Sitchon

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Lapu-Lapu’s new law provides strict protections vs LGBTQ+ discrimination

CELEBRATING PRIDE. LGBTQIA+ members and supporters from various barangays bond together as they participate in the Cebu City Pride March on June 24, 2023, to celebrate Pride Month. Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Lapu-Lapu’s new ordinance provides that all forms of gender-based discrimination and violence against members of the LGBTQ+ are strictly prohibited and will be met with fines to lawsuits

CEBU, Philippines – Lapu-Lapu has become the last of Metro Cebu’s three highly urbanized cities to pass an ordinance that protects the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community (LGBTQ+).

The Lapu-Lapu City Council unanimously approved the anti-discrimination ordinance, authored by councilors Annabeth Cuizon and Joergen Eyas-Book on Wednesday, August 2.

“Wa ko nagdahum nga usa na diay ka tuig ang atong pagpreparar para sa ordinansa nga naghatag og protection sa atong mga LGBTQIA+. Finally, gahapon na approved na,” Cuizon said in a Facebook post.

(I couldn’t imagine that it has been a year since we prepared for the ordinance that would give protection to our LGBTQIA+. It has finally been approved.)

The ordinance was submitted to the City Council in the first week of July and passed its first reading on July 12. A public hearing was later held on July 20 with community stakeholders.

On June 22, 2022, the Cebu City Council passed the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Equality Ordinance authored by Councilor Jessica Resch, the president of the city’s Sangguniang Kabataan (SK).

Cebu Mayor Michael Rama signed the new city law on August 18, 2022.

Mandaue City Council, meanwhile, passed the city’s LGBT Code on February 11, 2016.

Defending LGBTQIA+

Based on Lapu-Lapu’s new ordinance, all forms of gender-based discrimination and violence against members of the LGBTQIA+ are strictly prohibited and will be met with fines to lawsuits.

The prohibited acts include gender-based discrimination in the workplace, denying members of the LGBTQIA+ access to private or public programs and services, verbal and non-verbal harassment, and even organizing groups and activities that incite discrimination against persons based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, and sex characteristics or SOGIESC.

The ordinance explicitly states that it would be unlawful for schools in the city to institute policies that would discriminate against a person based on actual or perceived SOGIESC.

The new Lapu-Lapu law mandates the city government to establish a “City SOGIESC Council” (CSC) and set aside P1 million from its Gender and Development Fund annually for the implementation of programs and assistance to victims of discrimination.

Section 13 of the new ordinance also requires city hall and companies operating in the city to reserve at least 1% of their workforce for members of the LGBTQIA+.

Big community win

Justin Chan, the president of the Association of LGBTQI Individuals Vouching for Equality (ALIVE) in the city, hailed the passage of the ordinance, saying it will be of great help to the sector. Incidentally, Chan’s father Junard is Lapu-Lapu’s mayor.

“I am grateful that the members of the community were able to pitch in for this ordinance,” Chan told Rappler on Thursday, August 3.

On July 28, 2022, Chan, together with officials, met with the Cebu United Rainbow LGBT Sector Incorporated (CURLS) and Resch to discuss plans in adopting Cebu City’s LGBTQIA+ ordinance.

Magdalena Robinson, the head of CURLS, told Rappler that adopting a policy that addresses discrimination is no easy feat and would require consistent collaboration with government partners and the like.

“We cannot wait for it to be implemented and enforced. As a trans individual, personally, I will feel safer knowing there is an ordinance that prevents people and organizations from committing discriminatory offenses. I feel assured, in the instance that I or a fellow LGBTQIA+ member is discriminated against in Lapu-Lapu, redress is afforded,” Robinson said. –

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