No same-sex marriage in SOGIE bill approved by House panel

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
No same-sex marriage in SOGIE bill approved by House panel
Under the SOGIE Equality Bill, "[promoting and encouraging] stigma on the basis of SOGIE in the media, in educational textbooks, and other medium" is considered a discriminatory practice and penalized. 

MANILA, Philippines — A measure meant to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics (SOGIESC) has hurdled the House committee on women and gender sexuality. The bill, which will have to go through debate in plenary, explicitly states that denying someone the license to marry is not a discriminatory act.

This comes after a series of hearings where evangelical groups with reservations on the bill and organizations supportive of the measure debated talking points already raised during past Congresses. These include respect for religious freedom, concerns on necrophilia and pedophilia and the conflation of same-sex marriage with SOGIESC discrimination, among others.

The Family Code specifies that marriages in the Philippines are "a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life."

Rep. Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Women’s Party), who confirmed the bill’s approval by the panel on Tuesday, considered it a “step towards the long-overdue enactment of legislation which will prohibit all forms of discrimination and harassment against the LGBTQIA+ community.”

“We believe that it is the right of every member of the LGBTQIA+ community to benefit from equal rights in education, labor, health services and other aspects without fear or worry,” Brosas said in Filipino.

The measure consolidates eight bills, including one filed by Brosas, that seek to protect individuals “at greater risk of experiencing human rights violations on the basis of SOGIESC,” which includes those with diverse SOGIESC who are from marginalized communities, such as persons with disabilities, persons of low socio-economic status, children poor, persons with indigenous peoples, among others.

Under the House-approved SOGIESC bill, denying a person’s application for a marriage license does not qualify as a discriminatory practice.

Specifically, the bill considers it discriminatory to deny “an application for or revoking a professional or other similar kind of license, clearance, certification on, or any other similar document, except marriage license, issued by the government due to the applicant's SOGIESC.”

RELATED: No, the SOGIE bill won’t legalize necrophilia, pedophilia | SOGIE bill will not outlaw Bible-based beliefs on LGBTs  

Discriminatory practices 

Under the bill, other acts considered to be “discriminatory practices” are the following:

  • Advertising, producing, and publishing in the media, in educational textbooks, and other medium that has the effect of promoting, encouraging and perpetuating stigma or inciting  violence and sexual abuse against any person or group on the basis of SOGIESC
  • Denying access to public services to any person on the basis of SOGIESC
  • Including SOGIESC, as well as the disclosure of one’s SOGIESC, in the criteria for any action related to the hiring, promotion or firing of workers, as well as their access to work opportunities
  • Refusing admission or expelling a person from any educational or training institution on the basis of SOGIESC or the SOGIESC of their parents or guardians without disregarding academic qualification
  • Denying a person access to public or private medical and other health services open 10 to the general public on the basis of such person's SOGIESC
  • Publishing information intended to “out” or reveal the sex or SOGIESC of persons without their consent, whether or not done in good faith, when such has not been made known by the person/s concerned and has been made with malicious intent or is primarily motivated by a desire for commercial profit; 
  • Engaging in public speech, except religious speech or comments made in the context of a religious service, ceremony or activity, meant to shame, insult, vilify, or which tends to incite or normalize the commission of discriminatory practices against persons of diverse SOGIESC, and which acts or practices in turn, intimidate them or result in the loss of their self-esteem; 

A counterpart measure has been stalled at the Senate after Majority Leader Joel Villanueva on February 8 moved to send the bill to the rules committee, which he chairs.

The rules committee has jurisdiction over the Senate calendar and the order of bills to be considered.

RELATED: Villanuevas in Congress move to delay SOGIE Equality Bill  

Brosas also called on both chambers of Congress to pass the SOGIESC bill, which she said is key to addressing discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community.  

“It is our hope that the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate will heed the call of the Filipino people by passing this important legislation as soon as possible to address the long-standing discrimination against LGBTQIA+ in Philippine society,” Brosas added.

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