SC suspends, fines judge over homophobic remarks, use of religion in proceeding

SC suspends, fines judge over homophobic remarks, use of religion in proceeding
This file photo shows the Supreme Court compound in Padre Faura, Manila.
Philstar.com / Erwin Cagadas

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court suspended and fined a judge in Manila over homophobic remarks and his use of religion in a judicial mandate, stressing that judges and justices must avoid discriminating minorities and maintain an air of impartiality.

In an 18-page decision, the high court suspended Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 26 Presiding Judge Jorge Emmanuel Lorredo for 30 days without pay after finding him guilty of sexual harassment, fined him P40,000 for simple misconduct and another P10,000 for conduct unbecoming of a judge, the SC Public Information Office said in a statement.

The punishment stemmed from a complaint by Marcelino Espejon and Erickson Cabonita, who accused Lorredo of being biased against them and their sexual orientation in an unlawful detainer case. 

The two also alleged that the judge was “heavily influenced by his religious beliefs and impressions about homosexuality which he irrelevantly tried to relate to the case.”

Citing the Bible

Lorredo denied these claims, maintaining that as a Christian, he only tries his best to guide lawyers and litigants to arrive at a settlement using the help of the Bible and even claims that he has settled 101 cases through its help so far.

He said he was only warning Espejon and Cabonita about God’s punishment for violating his commandments and was merely reminding them that God hates homosexuality.

Court transcripts reveal that Lorredo told Espejon and Cabonita in Filipino during a preliminary conference that “God dislikes being gay and lesbian,” and that “If you have a lesbian relationship, your child will be punished.”

The high court ruled that these remarks “have no place in our courts of law” and that Lorredo violated the New Code of Judicial Conduct, which requires judges to ensure equal treatment of all before the courts and to understand diversity arising from race, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, and social and economic status, among others.

“There should be no reason for judges to add to the burdens of members of the LGBTQIA+ community through the swift hand of judicial review, or to effectively lend a hand in perpetuating the discrimination they face,” the SC said through Justice Alfredo Caguioa.

It also said that Lorredo violated Civil Service Commission Resolution No. 01-0940 on work-related sexual harassment, which classifies remarks on someone’s sexual orientation as a less grave offense.

As he admitted to using the Bible to settle 101 cases, the SC found that Lorredo let his religious beliefs interfere with his work resulting in his failure to fulfill his duty to not only act with impartiality but to appear impartial at all times.

This is the second time that Lorredo has been meted with a penalty by the SC over improper remarks. The first time he was sanctioned, the judge was handed a P5,000 fine and a stern warning. — Xave Gregorio



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