Mandaue City probes club for alleged transgender discrimination

Mandaue City Hall
Mandaue City Hall File photo/Mandaue City PIO

THE Mandaue City Government is investigating a club in the city for allegedly discriminating against a transwoman guest.

The establishment reportedly refused entry to a transgender individual unless she paid for the use of a VIP table. VIP tables in clubs provide guests with a reserved area and a dedicated server for orders, typically at a higher cost than regular reservations.

Mandaue City Treasurer Regal Oliva, in an interview, on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, said a show-cause order (SCO) will be issued against the establishment to get their side of the story. An SCO is a court order directing an accused party in a lawsuit to explain or justify why a certain action should not be put into effect by the court.

Oliva, a transgender woman and one of the leading figures in Mandaue City's Anti-Discriminatory Ordinance for People of Diverse Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (Sogie), called the alleged policy of the club "homophobic."

During a video call interview on Friday, Janna Fernan, the transgender woman who experienced alleged discrimination said she plans to visit Mandaue City Hall on Friday afternoon, along with representatives and officials from the city's LGBTQ community to submit a complaint letter regarding the incident.

Fernan recalled that she and her two couple friends visited Flex Superclub to celebrate a birthday during the establishment's soft opening on Thursday night, Feb. 22.

However, as they were about to enter, she was surprised when two bouncers allegedly approached her and told her that transgender individuals are not allowed inside the club.

Shortly after, the bouncers returned and inquired if Fernan and her friends had booked a VIP table. Upon confirming their reservation, Fernan was granted entry to the club.

Fernand said the bouncers told her that transgender individuals are only allowed entry into the club if they have reserved VIP tables.

Despite feeling humiliated, she and her friends initially stayed at the same club; they later transferred to another club due to their disappointment over what happened.

Fernand said that while she had heard of similar experiences from other transgender individuals entering clubs, what happened on Thursday was a first personal experience of discrimination.

"What if other LGBT people and other trans people just come and pay only for a bottle of drink because it's (the club) new? What if you just go and you can't afford a VIP (table) so you won't be allowed in?" said Fernan.

“That doesn't seem fair at all," she added.

Fernan vented her frustration on Facebook, advising fellow transgender individuals to avoid the club if they don’t wish to book a VIP table.

The club's discriminatory policy in Fernan's social media post received several negative reactions from netizens.

John Eddu Ibañez, head of the Mandaue City Legal Office (MCLO), commented that if the incident is proven true, it would violate the city’s Sogie ordinance.

Fernan said she received a message from an alleged staff member of the club on Facebook, claiming that it was the bouncer, not the management, who prevented her from entering. She criticized the message arguing that the bouncers couldn't act without receiving instructions.

Another member of the club's staff commented on her post and apologized for the incident, saying that it was just a misunderstanding.

On Friday, the management of Flex issued an apology for the recent incident and clarified that it was a misunderstanding. They further stated that they have taken immediate measures to review their staff training procedures to prevent future misunderstandings.

The management also expressed their commitment to seek guidance from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and organizations on how they can better support and welcome members of the community into their space.

"We acknowledge that this incident has caused distress and inconvenience to those affected, and for that, we are truly sorry. The feelings of exclusion or discrimination experienced by members of the LGBTQ + community go against the very ethos of our establishment, and we are committed to rectifying this situation and ensuring that it does not happen again in the future," a part of their statement reads.

Under the city's Sogie (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression) ordinance, violators will be fined P1,000 to P5,000 maximum, attend a Sogie seminar, conduct community service, and serve jail time for at least three months, depending on the court's decision.

Last Feb. 12, another transwoman demanded a public apology from a club located in a hotel in Cebu City for alleged discrimination after being denied entry by a lady guard of the establishment.


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