Former Deputy Speaker and Quezon Representative Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III joined the clamor for the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill, a measure which seeks to protect citizens from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE).
The bill, sponsored by Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros in the Senate, is still pending on second reading, particularly in the period of debate.
“The issue of discrimination should not be a matter of debate. It’s time to enact the SOGIE Equality Bill,” said Tañada, who co-authored the version of the measure filed in the House of Representatives in the 15th Congress.
“When I was congressman, I was asked if I was okay with having a gay staff member. I simply replied, ‘As long as he can do the job’,” Tañada recalled.
“However, this isn’t the case for many members of the LGBTQ+ community. Many are not accepted in companies simply because they are perceived to be different. We forget that regardless of SOGIE, we are all the same– not only human beings, but Filipino citizens who are given the same rights that should be upheld equally for all,” he added.
The SOGIE Equality Bill enumerates several prohibited discriminatory acts in workplaces, schools, public establishments, and the delivery of basic services with corresponding penalties. The measure was first filed by then Akbayan Party-List Rep. Etta Rosales 19 years ago.
“When we fight for human rights, we also fight for SOGIE equality,” Tañada said.