It was San Beda University’s student council that made the ball rolling, coming out with a letter supporting the SOGIE bill that although passed on final reading at the House of Representatives last year, continues to languish in the Senate.
“We are student government chairpersons from Catholic academic institutions united under the pillars of respect for human diversity, love and equality expressing our support to the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression [SOGIE] Equality Bill,” the letter asserted boldly.
Six Catholic universities immediately stood behind San Beda, including Ateneo De Manila University, De La Salle University-Manila, De La Salle College of St. Benilde, University of Santo Tomas, Miriam College, and St. Scholastica’s College, Manila.
This SOGIE bill ensures the safety of people under the LGBTQ+ flag through provisions that prevent discrimination against people based on their sexual and gender identity. The bill also guarantees accessible education, healthcare, employment, and other basic rights that people in the community has every right to.
“Brought up on the Christian values of love and acceptance, and as leaders and representatives of students in Catholic academic institutions, we urge the Senate’s leadership and its members to stop the delay on the SOGIE Equality Bill and move for its approval,” the letter read.
These student leaders are hoping to end the debate on a bill that should have been passed a long time ago.
The SOGIE bill has faced rough sailing in Congress because of predominant sentiment among legislators against same-sex relationships and non-conventional lifestyles.
In the Senate specifically, while progressive thinkers like Sen, Risa Hontiveros have vowed to support the proposed bill, conservative members like the chamber’s president Tito Sotto and Sen. Manny Pacquiao – a Born Again Christian – maintained that the SOGIE bill will lead to greater toleration of so-called “sinful” relationships.
Before he became Senate President last month, Sotto already told a news conference the SOGIE bill faces a “slim chance” of approval in the 24-member chamber. He added that only if controversial provisions are deleted would the Senate move on with debates and pass the bill. (Note that Sotto was also among the conservative senators who staunchly opposed the Reproductive Health bill.)
There is a strong sentiment that conservatives may see the SOGIE bill as a form of “discrimination” against THEIR beliefs. But the truth is, they’re just being bigots. Even student leaders from Catholic institutions realize that allowing any form of discrimination is not the Christian way. They stated this at the end of their letter.
He was quoted by international publications like the Washington Post as an unlikely ally of the community. On the show “Gandang Gabi, Vice” back in 2015, he declared he’s against bullying of gay people but retracted this two years later.In a speech before the Filipino community in Myanmar, he blamed Western culture for the widening acceptance of same-sex marriage and other issues around sexuality and gender.
Despite the archaic position showed by our nation’s decision-makers, we prefer to see the optimism in the choice of our young leaders to take a bold stand on the issue.
With the future leaders of our generation speaking out —the SOGIE bill may see the light of day. Maybe not today, but sooner than what the older generations may think.
Photo by Rogin Losa
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