19 senators sign committee report recommending SOGIESC Equality Bill

A member of the LGBT community raises a rainbow flag during the Metro Manila Pride March at the Cultural Center of the Philippines grounds in Pasay, Metro Manila on June 25, 2022.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate women, children, family relations, and gender equality panel filed its report recommending the passage of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics or SOGIESC Equality bill to the tune of 19 signatures out of 24 senators, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said. 

“I am ecstatic that 19 of us colleagues in the Senate have come together to support the SOGIESC Bill. In just one day, we persuaded them to sign the committee report. I am even more encouraged that in this Congress, the SOGIE bill will finally be passed,” Hontiveros said in a statement. "It's 2022 already; our laws should reflect the reality of our culture." 

In the 18th Congress, just eight senators signed the committee report. The following were the 19 who signed the report and expressed “strong and immediate support to move the bill forward" according to Hontiveros:

  • Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel
  • Senator Sonny Angara
  • Senator Imee Marcos
  • Senator Cynthia Villar
  • Senator Nancy Binay
  • Senator Bato dela Rosa
  • Senator Grace Poe
  • Senator Mark Villar
  • Senator Francis Tolentino
  • Senator JV Ejercito
  • Senator Robinhood Padilla
  • Senator Raffy Tulfo
  • Senator Jinggoy Estrada
  • Senator Lito Lapid
  • Senator Chiz Escudero
  • Senator Loren Legarda
  • Senator Bong Go
  • Senator Bong Revilla

The five remaining senators, including Majority Leader Joel Villanueva and Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, signed with reservations or have signaled their intent to interpellate. 

“The swiftness with which the committee report was signed and filed is surely a sign of good things to come. I am hopeful that this bill can continue to move forward to show that our Senate is a true supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community,” Hontiveros said in mixed Filipino and English. 

What does the bill say?

The SOGIESC Equality bill mandates the State to address all forms of discrimination and violence on the basis of SOGIESC. This includes:

  • refusing admission to or expelling a person from any educational or training institution
  • imposing disciplinary sanctions harsher than customary that infringe on the rights of students
  • refusing or revoking the accreditation of organizations, groups, political parties, or institutions, among others

Penalties include a fine of not less than P100,000, but not more than P250,000 or imprisonment of not less than one year, but not more than six 6 years. The bill also penalizes those who deny a person access to health services on the basis of the person’s SOGIESC. Those who refuse medical and health services based on SOGIESC can be penalized with a fine of not less than P100,000, but not more than P300,000, or imprisonment of not less than six months, but not more than two years and four months. 

The measure also explicitly states that nothing in the law should be interpreted to disturb the exercise of parental authority or academic freedom. 

“One of the most important things that the SOGIESC bill does is to ensure that every Filipino, regardless of gender, can receive competent medical services when needed. The stories of LGBTQIA members who are denied medical services simply because of their gender are heartbreaking. This is flat out discrimination," Hontiveros said.

“The SOGIESC Bill’s message is clear: our country should not tolerate any act of discrimination. We are depriving LGBTQIA+ members of their lives and jobs simply because of beliefs and traditions that need to be corrected." — Franco Luna 

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