Mis-sogie-nist bill

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

The match that burns a forest can also burn the finger of the arsonist.

This is what has happened to the “Transgender and Toilets” controversy, where one transgender went to town over a perceived act of discrimination when refused entry and use of a women’s toilet. Sensing an opportunity, several politicians exploited the controversy to promote national or local laws purportedly promoting gender equality but eventually ended up becoming class legislation and discriminatory to the majority. Other politicians drew close like moths to a fire all for the sake of publicity and photo ops for press release. But now the once silent majority of men and women are upset and speaking out on against the invasion of women’s toilets by non-women!

Today’s title MIS-SOGIE-NIST BILL is not just as a play of words from the term Misogynist which is defined as: dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice for women, but also to point out that the proposed SOGIE bill of Senator Risa Hontiveros is now viewed as an anti-women bill. Majority of the women who have spoken out against transgender MEN using the women’s toilets expressed fear, apprehension, their privacy being invaded and placed in a state of risk. Phil. Star Business Editor Marianne Go shared that she read through the SOGIE bill and noted that it was suppose to protect LGBTQIA’s from having those fears and apprehensions, so why is the burden or the concern now being passed on to women by forcing them to share their “comfort” rooms or toilets with actual men? Editor/Journalist Margie Quimpo-Espino formerly of the Inquirer asked: “Why should I have to be the one who’s uncomfortable when speaking of my right as a woman regarding women’s only toilets?” 

After the first public hearing conducted by Senator Hontiveros on the SOGIE bill, the common reaction was that the hearing discriminated against the non-LGBTQIA communities and that the hearing was a “Pity Me Party” for a tiny minority. I myself noted that some of the respondents were testifying about situations where individuals who want to be different in terms of gender or mental state, expected or demand that communities, businesses and the state to treat them on their terms and not based on established norms, professional or security requirements or the common good such as the safety and peace of mind of women who are most vulnerable when using toilets. It is one thing if LGBTQIAs are discriminated against solely for being LGBTQIA, it is another if the same person insists on challenging or defying established HR, security or operational protocol. A male security guard cannot frisk a transman for fear of being accused of sexual harassment the same way the janitress now being sued by the transgender could have been fired if women customers complained about a “non-woman” being allowed to use the ladies toilet. While the SOGIE bill is intended to fight discrimination against the LGBTQIA, it must not discriminate against the majority population of women.

Along with Marianne Go and Margie Quimpo-Espino who guested on our show AGENDA, we were also very fortunate to have Atty. Chona Gonzales who was also a 3 term Congresswoman for the CIBAC Partylist. Gonzales pointed out that among many nations, the Philippines can be categorized as very progressive and accepting of the LGBTQIAs. As for rights, there are more than enough laws or Republic Acts that protect the individual rights of LGBTQIAs and even though we do not allow same sex marriage, there are existing laws that protect partnerships that would extend to protecting properties and the likes. Cong. Chona Gonzales expressed the same concerns that Senate President Tito Sotto expressed concerning how the SOGIE bill is one sided in some things and dangerously vague in others. In particular Gonzales pointed out that if you are sued for discriminating against an LGBTQIA, the bill provides for a specific penalty of 100K to 500K and/or 6 months in prison. However if the regular normal everyday Filipino sued for discrimination, there is no pre-determined value for fines and prison terms. In terms of vagueness, the question is: How do we distinguish the “real” from the fake? Who determines a real LGBTQIA? How do we prevent or protect people from being set-up to be accused for discrimination? What studies have been conducted to determine the potential legal flood or economic disruption that the bill can stir up? We cannot simply pass laws without determining the social, psychological and economic impact of laws without real studies especially something that is based purely on how people feel or what people perceive.

Personally I question the motives of so-called supporters of the LGBTQIA. I respect those who have an established track record of good works and consistent efforts to promote the well being of all Filipinos and not just the LGBTQIAs. But it would be well for the concerned community to look beyond the so-called concern of others. In the years I’ve been in media, I have seen so many so-called do-gooders or supporters who label themselves as friends of the community but are in fact opportunistic or exploitative characters who link-up with various groups on various issues all in order to build up numbers and draw political support when the need comes. Just like on Facebook some politicians want to increase “followers” and have ready available “Allies” they can enlist or call upon when they need a show of force or numbers. But not all friends are for real - Not all friends are true. Remember this proverb:

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful” Proverbs 27:6

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