BACOLOD

Gonzaga: No to gay parade but yes to anti-discrimination council

Ecoviews and Issues



MY COLUMN welcomes feedback from its readers. Let me address one, from the LGBTQ+ community through a Letter to the Editor of a member, a certain "Joshua, 17 years old." I don't know whether "Joshua17" is a real person, or an adult assuming such identity. I give him the benefit of doubt.

My article was written, certainly not for Bacolod only, but for the broader readership of SunStar on print and online. One reason I shifted to SunStar as columnist is precisely the wider scope of its circulation, in Bacolod and beyond. Thus, my piece on SOGIE Push going down from the High Court and the Senate, to city and provincial councils is intended for a wider audience. As I pointed out in my previous column, 26 cities and municipalities nationwide, have adopted SOGIE based Ordinances (a good example is Quezon City).

I am aware of the City Ordinance, Anti-Discrimination Ordinance of April 2013 that is inclusive of different social sectors -- PWDs, Seniors, Women, Children, etc. authored by erstwhile Kagawad Panglungsod, Ms. Emma Ang. But I do know, that there was a push for passage of specific SOGIE based ordinance which Councilor Wilson Gamboa initially sponsored, but pulled out because of negative reactions to it. Upon review and consultation with different "influencers," he came up with a more inclusive measure. Actually, according to him, it was in response to moves to institutionalize an annual gay parade/rainbow parade in Bacolod. Sensitive to strong opposition to this advocacy, he has drawn up a more inclusive mechanism to address issues of social discrimination in Bacolod: the creation of an anti-discrimination council. This resolution has yet to pass the second reading.

Is there no SOGIE template for the LGBTQ nationwide campaign for its adoption? I say there is. One proof is Cavite Vice Governor Ramon Jolo Revilla III active promotion of a provincial ordinance, which upholds the right of his constituents," regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity of expression (SOGIE). Provincial Ordinance No. 200, otherwise known as the "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) Community Protection and Recognition Ordinance, was crafted by the Cavite Sangguniang Panlalawigan (provincial legislative council) -- which Vice Gov. Jolo Revilla presides.

In fact, in a video recorded interview posted September 4, 2018, Revilla solicited public support for the passage of the House bill counterpart, which is still pending enactment.

"Kung naipasa po natin ito sa lalawigan ng Cavite, mas kayang-kaya natin ito sa buong Pilipinas (If we were able to enact this in Cavite, the more we can do it in the entire Philippines)," Revilla added. His authored provincial ordinance that seeks to uphold and protect the rights of LGBTQ bears same substance as the House of Representative Bill.

Cavite's provincial government through the Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO), in coordination with non-government organizations (NGOs) supporting the LGBTQ community, would be directly and primarily responsible for the implementation of the provisions of the ordinance.

On the prohibited acts as specified in Section 4, once the ordinance takes effect, it will be considered unlawful to discriminate against any person and/or group of persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression or those who belong to the LGBTQ community. Considered discriminatory are denial of access to public services, refusal or revocation of the accreditation and formal recognition -- as well as registration -- of any LGBTQ Community in educational institutions, workplaces, communities and similar settings.

The ordinance also prohibits denial of access to and/or the use of private and public establishments, facilities, utilities, transportation and services, including housing, which is open to the general public. On the subject of 'denial' the ordinance specifies its presence "when a person is given inferior accommodation or services and (there was) rejection of any application, entry or participation. It also includes subjecting or forcing any person to any medical or psychological examination without the expressed approval of the person involved, except in cases allowed by law.

It will also be against the law to upload or post of pictures, videos and comments on the internet through social networking sites, websites and other social media intended or will demean, debase, degrade and humiliate a person or group of persons; as well as publication and/or use of derogatory and humiliating statements, remarks, comments, articles, videos and pictures in print and broadcast media against a person/group. The ordinance also gives the LGBTQ equal rights to avail of medical and health services that is open to the general public.

I must point out that I am for equal rights of all sectors, not just the LGBTQ+ group, based on moral, biblical tenets. That sex is not fluid, nor a choice based on feelings, is fundamental truth. What I am really against, and will contend with, is the use of one's high social status, or even choice position, to seduce youngsters, especially from poor communities to be adopted as 'scholars' then turned in no time to be, sexual partners. Preying on poverty and great material want, some prominent, well off gays, one a long serving city dad, have preyed on poor youngsters from such slums as found in Barangay Banago. I have actually interviewed at length, one former good looking young man who was victim of such "sponsorship" -- free monthly allowance, education and good food.

Councilor Gamboa is on the right tract. The city must create an operational council against any form of social discrimination, especially against the poor, and the disenfranchised city folks. This anti-discriminatory council must be comprised of representatives from all sectors-centrists, left or right of center, urban poor, Catholics and Evangelicals, Muslims, LGBTQ+.

Finally, I must point out to "Joshua17", that one of my long time, good friend, an influential, is gay. We respect each other, and in no way have I demeaned him, though I have engaged him in meaningful discourses with strongly differing opinions. We have remained the best of friends through decades.


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