‘Bong’ takes cudgels for gays, lesbians
- Marvin Sy () - September 9, 2006 - 12:00am
Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. may be one of show business’ more prominent macho action stars but he also has a soft spot for the country’s gays and lesbians.

Gay and lesbian organizations both here and abroad are rallying behind the neophyte senator who has taken up the cudgels for them.

The reason for this is that Revilla has filed an anti-gender discrimination bill, which seeks to provide equal opportunity for gays and lesbians in the workplace, among other things.

Senate Bill No. 1738 was actually filed by Revilla in 2004 but this has failed to make any progress in the chamber.

However, outside the halls of Congress, the bill has been widely supported, not only by the gay and lesbian organizations, but also by human rights groups.

According to Revilla, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), an organization of excellent standing in the field of international law and human rights, has declared its support for his bill.

The ICJ expressed support for the bill in a letter to the Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network Philippines Inc. (LAGABLAB-Pilipinas), saying that it endorses the object and purpose of the bill.

It stated that the proposed bill honors Article II, Section 2 of the Philippine Constitution, which commits the state to adopt the generally accepted principles of international law as part of the law of the land.

Revilla admitted that the bill has a long way to go before its passage. But he vowed to press the committee on labor, employment and human resources, chaired by fellow actor-turned-politician Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, to place the measure among its priorities.

Once passed, the bill would make unlawful the denial of entry of any person into public service, including becoming a uniformed personnel, on the basis of sexual orientation.

It would also disallow the expulsion of a person from education institutions for the same reason.

Inclusion of sexual orientation, including the disclosure of gender identity in the criteria for hiring, promotion and dismissal of workers and the determination of employee compensation, training, incentives, privileges, benefits or allowances would also be punishable under the bill.

Harassment of gay and lesbian members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines would also carry corresponding penalties under the proposed bill.

Under the bill, any person found guilty of any discriminatory practice shall be penalized with a fine of P100,000 to P500,000 or imprisonment of four to six years.

Revilla argued that although the country already has laws that provide for the fulfillment of international human rights standards, his proposed bill distinguishes itself by providing criminal liability in cases of discrimination against persons on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

BILL INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS JINGGOY ESTRADA LESBIAN AND GAY LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY NETWORK PHILIPPINES INC PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE AND THE ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES PILIPINAS REVILLA REVILLA JR. SENATE BILL NO
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