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4 senators express support for immediate passage of SOGIE bill

Senator Loren Legarda reiterated Friday her call for the immediate passage of the anti-discrimination or Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill which has been pending in the Senate for almost two years.

“The State should protect the rights of all its citizens, which include members of the LGBTQIA community. No person should be discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression,” Legarda said in a press statement.

Senate Bill No. 1271 seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or SOGIE. 

Senator Risa Hontiveros filed the bill on August 1, 2016 and has faced an uphill battle in the Senate chamber, unlike its counterpart in the House of Representatives which has been approved in September last year. 

Legarda said there have been exhaustive discussions on the SOGIE Bill for the past two years and it is about time that the measure is passed by the Senate.

“I hope we do not further delay the approval of this measure that seeks inclusion and equality. We must promote a society that values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender and sexual orientation,” she said.

She added the government should build an inclusive and equitable society where diversity is celebrated and every citizen is given an equal opportunity to achieve his or her full potential as a person.

During the session Wednesday,  Legarda told the plenary that it would be a great legacy of the chamber if they will be able to pass the anti-discrimination measure during their watch.

“I just want to give my full unequivocal, urgent support to this measure,” she added.

Senate Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto replied, “And for the record, I also associate myself with the statements made by Senator Legarda.” 

Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he will put the bill in the agenda for its immediate passage.

“I commit to the good sponsors, Sen. Risa [Hontiveros] and Sen. Loren [Legarda] that we’ll place this on the calendar, the agenda, every day, so that we can tackle this anytime within the next few weeks,” he said. 

Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon also expressed support for the measure. 

Hontiveros earlier said the measure has been under the period of interpellation for 602 calendar days, since her sponsorship last December 2016. 

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Joel Villanueva, who have both expressed apprehension on the bill, are scheduled to interpellate next week. — RSJ, GMA News