THE Mandaue City Council approved the country’s first comprehensive ordinance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights that seeks to protect individuals against discrimination.
The Anti-Discriminatory Ordinance for People of Diverse Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) was approved during the City Council’s regular session last February 10.
Councilor Nenita Layese, who drafted the ordinance, said she believes that the SOGIE community should be recognized as a sector of society.
She said that “promoting and upholding their rights will not only enhance their freedom, welfare, and dignity as humans, but will also promote social justice as a whole and will contribute in the creation of a human rights culture in the country.”
According to the ordinance’s guiding principles, every individual has the right not to be discriminated against, intimidated, abused or humiliated. Each one has the right to quality and responsive education, and “economic development based on the precepts of justice and equity.”
It will be unlawful for any person to deny access to private or public programs and services, as well as student benefits like scholarships, financial assistance, merit awards and election as officers of the student government and council.
The ordinance also requires everyone in Mandaue to make sure that the SOGIE community enjoys equal access to private and public establishments, like transportation and accommodations. It attempts to protect people from “verbal and non-verbal ridicule,” which includes being made fun of “in writing, words and action.”
Prospective employers cannot refuse to hire applicants on the basis of their being members of the LGBT community, the ordinance also states.
The LGBT Hate Crime Watch has documented at least 141 cases of hate crimes from 1996 to 2011.
Of these, 95 cases involved gay men, 26 involved transgender individuals, 16 involved lesbians and four involved bisexuals.
One of the programs the City will implement is the Comprehensive Diversity Anti-Discrimination Program, which has an initial allocation of P1 million for this year.
The program includes a capacity-building and education campaign and “sexual orientation and gender identity expression sensitivity seminars” for organized public and private institutions.
Layese also assured that victims of discrimination will be given legal assistance by the City Government.
“The Mandaue City Police Office is also strongly encouraged to handle specific concerns relating to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression through existing violence against women and children or VAWC and human rights desk in all police stations in Mandaue City,” a portion of the ordinance read.
A Diversity Affairs for Sexual Orientation and Gender Commission will be created to implement the ordinance. A representative from the SOGIE community will also be included in the City Council’s committee on gender and development.
Violators of the ordinance will pay a fine of P1,000, be made to undergo a SOGIE seminar, perform community service or face three months in jail for the first offense.
Penalties will increase depending on how many times the violation is committed.