Transwoman demands public apology over club’s discrimination

Cebu City map.
Cebu City map.

A MEMBER of the LGBTQIA+ community in Cebu has demanded a public apology from the staff members of a club located in a hotel in Cebu City, citing incidents of SOGIESC-based violations against dignity and discrimination.

Czar Dabon, a transgender woman, complained of experiencing discrimination after being denied entry by a lady guard of Agwa, who allegedly insisted on stamping Dabon and making the complainant pay a P200 entry fee.

“This entire ordeal occurred in public areas where onlookers became privy to my verbal discrimination, which caused me to be extremely humiliated, on top of the offensive treatment that I was already being subjected to,” reads a portion of Dabon’s incident report.

LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, or asexual.

A copy of the incident report was sent to SunStar Cebu by Dabon’s friend on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, three days after the incident happened on Feb. 4.

SunStar Cebu tried to get the side of the management of Agwa but it has yet to provide an official statement as of press time.

SOGIESC is an acronym to connote sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics.

Feb. 4 incident

After being denied entry to the club on Feb. 4, Dabon proceeded to the registration area and explained that a friend had reserved a table inside.

Although the staff confirmed the reservation, they insisted on applying a wrist stamp due to the policy for males.

Based on the complainant’s incident report, a friend defended Dabon’s identity as a woman. However, the complainant was still required to have the wrist stamp.

Dabon expressed confusion, as Dabon had visited the establishment two months prior without encountering such an entry requirement.

In response, a staff member said, “Aw, basin babaye kaayo kag pamorma ato’ (Well, maybe you looked very much like a girl at that time).”

“I also feel that the specific word bayot meaning homosexual man, has been repeatedly said to my face in an offensive and malicious manner by more than one staff member that night,” said Dabon.

On Feb. 7, Dabon sent an email to the manager of Agwa reporting the incident to find a resolution to the issue but as of writing the club has yet to respond to Dabon’s email.

On Feb 9. Dabon filed a blotter report at the Mabolo Police Station’s Women and Children’s Protection Desk and has sent a follow-up email but has not received any response.

Dabon describes the incident as humiliating after being called names in front of people.

While Dabon aims to avoid legal action, Dabon urged the club to reconsider its door policy.

Cebu City ordinance

Dabon maintained that while the club has the right to determine the policies of its business, it does not have the right to invade human rights.

“My right to self-determination, dignity, and equality are inalienable, and you do not get to take it away simply because you run a business, especially not if you run a business in a city which recognizes these rights,” Dabon said.

While the SOGIE Bill is still in the Senate, the Cebu City Government has passed an ordinance that recognizes the SOGIESC of every person.

The Cebu City government passed in August 2022 City Ordinance 2022, which provides specific penalties for the following offense: (a.) maliciously humiliating someone in public due to sexual orientation; (b.) inflicting physical harm on an individual due to sexual orientation; (c.) vexing, harassing, threatening, whether verbal or physical, and subjecting the individual to jokes, pranks, and humor based on sexual orientation.

Penalties for SOGIESC-based discrimination include six months of imprisonment and/or P5,000 or both at the discretion of the court.

Dabon claimed that this was not the first time that an incident of discrimination happened in the bar.

Dabon added that the club must have regular SOGIE seminars for their staff, including senior management.


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