A Philippine senator has renewed efforts to ban LGBTI discrimination in the country.
A bill, which would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE), has become one of the slowest-moving bills in the country’s history.
Senator Risa Hontiveros filed the bill in 2016. And, lawmakers and rights activist originally drafted the law nearly 20 years ago.
The House of Representatives passed the bill in 2017 with unanimous support from 198 lawmakers.
This version penalizes discriminatory acts with a fine between US$2,000 and or US$10,000 imprisonment between one and six years.
But, conservative lawmakers, including anti-LGBTI boxer Manny Pacquiao, have stalled it in the Senate.
It once again floundered in the last session of Congress last month.
Hontiveros on Wednesday (10 July) promised to re-file the SOGIE Equality Bill in the next session of Congress.
She said she would work hard for its passage at a forum, according to Manila Bulletin.
‘Even though we failed to pass it during the last Congress, we have filed it again, and we found new allies and champions of the SOGIE equality bill,’ she said.
‘Its concept and principles has also become popular among the public. So I trust that this will now pass in the 18th Congress. Totoong, we will paint the Senate with rainbow colors,’ she said.
Banning discrimination, not legalzing same-sex marriage
But, she stressed in an effort to win over opponents, the bill did not legalize same-sex marriage.
‘This SOGIE Equality Bill simply promotes non-discrimination on education, jobs, social services, including health and employment’.
She said same-sex marriage might come later as part of a ‘rainbow agenda’.
‘I just hope it won’t take another 20 years,’ she pointed out.
Calls for discrimination protections peaked last year when footage of a popular LGBTI comedian being denied entry to a club went viral.
Jervi Li, more popularly known as Kaladkaren Davila, uploaded a video of a bouncer at H&J Sports Bar in Poblacion, Makati denying her entry.
The Philippines’ first transgender lawmaker also requested a congressional inquiry into the discrimination.
Local administrations, meanwhile, have implemented their own anti-discrimination protections.