By Celene Sakurako
Last Wednesday, on Sept. 20, the “House Bill Number 4982” or the “SOGIE Equality Bill”—a bill that prohibits discrimination on the basis of Sexual orientation, Gender identity, or Expression (SOGIE), passed its third reading with an outstanding unanimous voting of 197-0. The bill filed last year by Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman (the first transwoman member of the Philippine Congress), is once again where it was 17 years ago, when it was first filed as the “Anti-Discrimination Bill” during the 11th Congress by then Akbayan Representative Etta Rosales.
It is once again, up to Senate to decide if the bill will pass or not. So as we wait, we’re here to remind you how the bill will bring us equality, with a list of five things the “SOGIE Equality Bill” will protect everyone from.
Under the bill, employers will be prohibited from including sexual orientation in their job description. Thus, employers cannot hire, promote, give work assignments, incentives, and/or privileges to prospective employee based on their SOGIE. And this includes jobs in the military and the police.
Medical services for all
All medical institutions, both private and public, are to serve person in need of medical attention. They, under the bill are obliged to serve and will be penalized if they deny access to patient based on their SOGIE. The bill will also protect any LGBTQ+ person from being forced or subjected to take any medical psychological examination without approval, unless you’re a minor. And this rule also applies to health insurances, such as HMO.
No more public harassment
Apart from being protected by the bill against verbal and physical harassment based on SOGIE, it also prohibits detention or profiling that imposes harsher penalties, requirements, restrictions, or prohibitions against students or trainees because of it. And these rules apply and does not exclude those who work in educational institutions, the military, the police, and the government.
Rights to your basic rights
With the bill passed, institutions will be unable to refuse or revoke accreditation, registration, or formal recognition into any groups, organizations, political parties, or establishments based on SOGIE. Denying of application for basic rights to a professional license or similar documents will also be banned. Housings, accommodations, or services that are open to public must be available for all; refusing admission or expelling someone based on SOGIE will be banned.
Mistreatment is mistreatment
When we say the bill frees us from public harassment, we really mean it. The bill will penalize any promotion or encouragement of stigma based on SOGIE in media, including educational textbooks, ads, magazines, public speeches, and so on. That means, urging of sexual abuse or violence against the LGBTQ+ will be a huge no-no. And, bonus, publishing works in intent of outing someone will also be punishable under the bill.
If the bill passes, any acts violating those mentioned above will be fined P100,000 to P500,000, and/or imprisoned to jail from one to six years.