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Here’s everything you need to know about the SOGIE Bill

At this point, almost everyone has heard of the SOGIE bill, but not many understand what is it about.

For years now, members of the LGBT community and its allies have been pushing for the sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) equality bill, an antidiscrimination bill, to be passed into law.

As Pride Month comes to a close, and with hundreds of Filipinos urging for equality, here are a few facts about the bill as explained by OutRight Action International’s Gina Cristobal and Babayanes Inc.’s Atty. Claire de Leon. 

What does SOGIE mean?

Cristobal: Ang SOGIE ay ang sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Sa SOGIE kasi pasok lahat ng tao dito. So ang sexual orientation, attraction ’yan. May same-sex attraction. Kung bisexual ka, gusto mo babae or lalaki.

Ang gender identity naman ay kung paano mo kinikilala sarili mo. Kung pinanganak kang lalaki at kilala mo sarili mo as lalaki, then lalaki ka. Pero kung ang nararamdaman mo ay opposite, eh di transgender ka. Kung ikaw ay trans woman pinanganak kang lalaki pero ang totoong ikaw ay babae.

Ang transgender, hindi nila ginusto maging transgender. Nagpapakatotoo sila kung ano sinisigaw kung sino ba talaga sila.



What is the SOGIE Equality Bill?

De Leon: When talking about the SOGIE Equality Bill, people often focus on SOGIE, but this bill is not trying to legislate SOGIE. We cannot legislate identity.

This bill merely seeks to ensure that our sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression will not be used to restrict us from accessing the rights that everyone is supposed to have access to.

The SOGIE Equality Bill is an antidiscrimination bill. It seeks to prohibit acts of discrimination that are committed based on an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

Cristobal:  Sa SOGIE Bill, pantay-pantay tayong lahat. Sila kasi ay hindi nabibigyan ng pantay na karapatan na mabuhay ng may human rights. Simulan natin bata ka, gusto mo safe ka, hindi ka bubugbugin, hindi ka ide-deny na mag-aral dahil lang LGBTIA person ka.

Paano ka magkakaroon ng magandang kinabukasan kung may diskriminasyon?

Why is there a need for the bill in the first place?

De Leon: Without any law to protect us, any person may be discriminated against on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (or SOGIE). This leaves all of us in general, and the LGBTQI community in particular, vulnerable to discrimination in different contexts and spaces—in schools, in the workplace, or in accessing services.

Because of this, people have been refused entry to schools, denied access to adequate healthcare, excluded from socio-economic support, rejected from employment applications, or treated unfairly with regard to trainings and promotion, on the basis of their SOGIE.

While some local government units have enacted antidiscrimination ordinances in their localities, these ordinances cover a very small percentage of the population, and more than 81 million Filipinos reside outside of these areas.

What is included in the bill?

Cristobal: Pinaglalaban sa Congress hindi lang para pagbayarin ang nagdidiskrimina o pang-aabuso, binibigyan din ng chance na matuto na hindi lang sila LGBTQIA, na pantay-pantay tayo.

De Leon: Primarily, the bill defines discrimination, enumerates the prohibited acts of discrimination, and provides for penalties in case of violation of these provisions.

It is about protecting individuals from discrimination on the basis of SOGIE. These acts include refusing to admit or expelling of students from educational institutions, imposing harsher penalties or requirements on students, denial of access to health services, denial of access to establishments or facilities, harassment, and profiling, among others.



Will it take away the rights of other people?

De Leon: Protecting the rights of a marginalized sector does not take away rights of another.

If we think that allowing a sector to exercise their rights would take away rights from others, we must rethink how we understand rights. We should not think of rights as a limited resource.

When we protect the right of a child to education, by prohibiting expulsion on the basis of SOGIE, we are not preventing another child from accessing the same education.

Cristobal: Walang mawawalan ng karapatan. Kapag binigyan ng karapatan ang LGBTQIA, hindi mababawasan ang karapatan mo bilang heterosexual. Kapag pinanganak ka, lahat tao may karapatan. Ito ay hindi tingi-tingi.

Is this the same as same-sex mariage?

Cristobal: Ang bill hindi ito same-sex marriage. ’Yun ang naririnig namin since 1999.

Isn’t this the same with other equal rights law in the Constitution? What is this for?

De Leon: At present, there is still no law prohibiting a person from discriminating another on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. This bill simply seeks to eliminate the discrimination that prevents people from exercising their rights because of how other people perceive their SOGIE.

What is the future of the SOGIE Equality bill in this country and what do you hope to say to others?

De Leon: It is inevitable. Our duty-bearers cannot look away forever from discrimination that has marked the many lived experiences of people of diverse SOGIE. The antidiscrimination bill is the necessary first step toward equality. Without it the narrative of stigma and discrimination will not change.

Cristobal: Ang sakin kasi I’m challenging everyone na tanungin niyo sarili ninyo: Ano ang kinakakatakutan mo sa hindi katulad mo sa itsura o sa relasyon mo? – RC, GMA News