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Discrimination due to SOGIESC to be penalized by Senate’s equality bill

Discrimination and violence on the basis of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) will be penalized under the Senate Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality Committee report released Tuesday.

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday filed Committee Report No. 15 under Senate Bill No. 1600 in substitution of three bills seeking to prohibit discrimination on the basis of SOGIESC.

SB 1600 or the SOGIESC Equality Bill prohibits discriminatory practices on the basis of SOGIESC, such as refusing admission to or expelling a person from any educational or training institution; imposing disciplinary sanctions harsher than customary that infringe on the rights of students; and refusing or revoking accreditation of organizations, groups, political parties, or institutions.

The Senate panel recommended a penalty of less than P100,000 but not more than P250,000 or imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years for individuals who will commit such discriminatory practices.

The bill also penalizes those who deny a person access to emergency or necessary health services on the basis of the person's SOGIESC.

Individuals who refuse to provide medical and health services to a person on the basis of SOGIESC may face a fine of P100,000 to P300,000 penalty or imprisonment of six months to two years and four months.

The SOGIESC Equality Bill likewise stated that nothing in the law should be interpreted to disturb the exercise of parental authority or academic freedom.

“The SOGIESC Bill’s message is clear: our country should not tolerate any act of discrimination. Buhay at hanapbuhay ang ipinagkakait natin sa mga miyembro ng LGBTQIA+ nang dahil lang sa mga paniniwala at tradisyong kailangang iwasto [We are withholding life and livelihood from LGBTQIA+ Filipinos just because of traditions and beliefs that need to be corrected]. 2022 na, our laws should reflect the realities of our culture,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

She thanked her colleagues for supporting and signing the committee report although some of them have signed with reservations or stated that they will interpellate.

"Sa isang araw lang, nahikayat natin sila na pumirma sa committee report. Mas lalo akong nabuhayan ng loob na sa Kongresong ito, maipapasa na sa wakas ang SOGIE bill,” Hontiveros said.

(In just one day, we were able to persuade them to sign the committee report. I am even more encouraged that during this Congress the SOGIE bill may finally be passed.)

“The swiftness with which the committee report was signed and filed is surely a sign of good things to come. Umaasa ako na tuloy-tuloy na ang pag-usad ng bill na ito para ipakita at iparamdam na tunay na kasangga ng LGBTQIA+ community ang ating Senado, [I hope that the bill's progress will continue to show that the Senate is a true ally of the LGBTQIA+ community],” she added. — BM, GMA Integrated News