ANGELES CITY --- Pampanga First District Representative Carmelo “Jon” Lazatin II has expressed support to House Bill 4982 otherwise known as the Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (Sogie) Equality Act.
Lazatin said the SOGIE bill will protect members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from any from of discrimination.
The solon, one of the co-sponsors of the bill, added that human rights , gender sensitivity, and all forms of abuses particularly on the basis of SOGIE should be prevented.
The House of Representatives started the debate on the anti-discrimination bill last March 14.
Diwa Partylist Representative Emmeline Aglipay Villar, Women and gender equality committee chairperson, sponsored the SOGIE Equality Act for 2nd reading before the plenary.
Villar said there is a dire need for a law protecting the rights and giving equal opportunities to members of the LGBT community.
SOGIE rights are human rights but many of those who spit on those rights question the very humanity of those who possess sexual orientation, gender identity, sex or gender expression that is different from their own, according to her.
"It is unfortunately a common flaw of human nature to debase those who are Other, who are different – but as common as this is in human beings, it is not a flaw that should be found in the State. The State instead must provide the protection necessary to ensure that its people are protected from injustice brought about by these biases, whether carried out individually or institutionally," she added.
According to Villar, HB 4982:
• Provides concise, inclusive definitions for sexual orientation, gender orientation, gender identity and sex that also cover terms such as intersex and asexuality
• Provides concise definitions of discrimination, marginalization, hate crimes, and stigma in a manner that allows the same to be actionable within the law enforcement and legal systems
• Provides an inclusive list of discriminatory practices that cover the most common acts of discrimination based on prejudice against SOGIE
• Makes explicit that discriminatory practices can be performed through any medium, including telecommunications devices and the internet, which proscribes some of the most common forms of discriminatory practices prevalent in modern times
• Proscribes parents from inflicting physical or emotional harm on their children because of SOGIE issues
• Protects the right to privacy of individuals, and in so doing protects both the expression and non-expression of the same
• Sanctions government officials who do not act in accordance with their duty to investigate, prosecute, or otherwise act on a complaint under this bill
• Provides penalties for those convicted of discriminatory acts, including a fine of not less than P100,000 but not more than P500,000 or imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than 6 years or both, at the discretion of the court.
• Makes explicit that discriminatory acts need not be motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate of SOGIE to be illegal, by making such motivations into special aggravating circumstances rather than elements of the offense
• Renames the Women and Children's Desks in all police stations to "Women, Children, and Gender Rights Protection Desks"
• Mandates the State to pursue initiatives and programs that seek to establish and maintain an environment free of stigma and discrimination
• Encourages positive and empowering portrayal of LGBT by media
• Creates a Congressional Oversight Committee to monitor the compliance of public institutions to the provisions of the bill
A total of 144 legislators co-authored the bill, including Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas.
Apart from Villar, two authors of HB 4982 also delivered sponsorship speeches – Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao and Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman, the first transgender woman to be elected to Congress.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on March 20, 2017.
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