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No, Sen. Sotto, you can’t call queer people ‘homo sapiens’

When God gave humanity ignorance, Sen. Tito Sotto must have been the first in line. There are a lot of receipts supporting this claim (deleting Pepsi Paloma articles, mocking single moms, victim blaming remarks, etc.). In case you haven’t heard, he has a new food for thought for the LGBTQIA+ community. Instead of the lengthy acronym, why not just homo sapiens?

In light of the recent transgender discrimination incident at Farmers Plaza this week, a senate session was held last Wednesday, where a few senators can’t seem to understand the LGBTQIA+ acronym. One of the few is the senate president himself.

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Amidst the confusion, he quipped an easy solution that we should just come up with an umbrella term. “Why the lengthy letters? Why not just Homo Sapiens? We’re all the same,” Sotto said.

The road to equality might not be as easy as calling everybody “homo sapiens.”

During this senate session, Sen. Koko Pimentel added: “May plus pa? Hihingi sana ako ng definition ng IQA, pero kung may plus pa parang walang katapusan pala ito.” It’s not shocking that a lot of Filipinos, including prominent leaders, don’t know the basics of the LGBTQIA+ community. But seeing as they’re lawmakers, it’s their job to know the identities of people they’re governing.

Unfortunately, senators like Sotto and Pimentel aren’t only ignorant about LGBTQIA+ issues—they’re making it clear that they couldn’t be bothered to care. Keep in mind that these are the people in charge of our country’s well-being.

Read more: An FYI on LGBTQ+’s long, long list of acronyms

There is a lot to unpack from Sotto and Pimentel’s statements. Great news for us, author of the SOGIE Equality Bill and LGBTQIA+ advocate, Sen. Risa Hontiveros answered their burning questions. She explains how the “+” in the LGBTIQA+ means human sexuality is a spectrum and it continues to grow as society evolves.

Maraming kulay, maraming shades, so the spectrum may forever be further and further be refined habang nakikilala natin ang ating mga tao,” she interjected. Bless her patience for these ignorant homophobic men. She’s teaching grown-ass lawmakers whose job is to educate themselves on important matters like this.

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Let’s give a round of applause for our senate president. He’s really out there galaxy braining his way for a better, more inclusive government. Sad to say, your attempt on an umbrella term is not as well-meaning as you think.

There’s a difference between being unaware and being willfully ignorant.

There’s a difference between being unaware and being willfully ignorant. In yesterday’s Senate session, we definitely saw the fine line between these terms.

The LGBTQIA+ community aren’t simply gay or “homo sapiens.” We agree we’re all humans and segregation shouldn’t even exist. But here’s the thing, the lack of inclusion in this straight, male-dominant conservative society is the reason why we need the acronym.

Read more: For queer couples, holding hands in public is still a privilege

Queer Filipinos remain unsafe from discrimination in cities that claim to be safe spaces, powerful lawmakers want to be willfully ignorant on LGBTQIA+ rights, and all of this is scaring our country’s queer community more. We need the SOGIE bill more than ever. But with these circumstances, the road to equality might not be as easy as calling everybody “homo sapiens.”

So please, educate yourselves on why the initials and rights of LGBTQIA+ matter. It might not be a quick fix, but at least it’s the start of becoming more empathetic, unlike our current nation’s leaders. As we said on LGBTQIA+’s long list of acronyms, “The most important thing is to be respectful and use the terms that people prefer.”

Photo from INQUIRER.NET

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Rogin Losa
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