President Rodrigo Duterte will not certify the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (Sogie) Equality bill as urgent, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Wednesday.
Duterte will instead certify as urgent, a move that allows bills to be approved on second and third readings on the same day, an anti-discrimination bill that has a wider scope.
“Actually what he meant was an anti-discrimination law or bill, not the Sogie bill,” he told reporters.
“In fact he said, ‘I have that, we have that in Davao.’ So he was really, specifically referring to that anti-discrimination law in Davao,” he added.
Following the oath-taking of Malacañang Press Corps on Tuesday night, Duterte was asked whether he would certify the Sogie bill as urgent.
He said “yes,” adding that he wanted members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to be “happy.”
Panelo said an anti-discrimination law would encompass LGBT issues, like the Davao ordinance. “Kasi `yung anti-discrimination law sa Davao, it refers to all. You cannot discriminate the handicapped, special children, `yung merong third gender,” he said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Duterte was “misquoted,” citing Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go,” the president’s aide.
“I am told by ES Medialdea and Sen. Bong Go that the President was misquoted. He is supporting an anti-discrimination bill pretty much like the ordinance in Davao which is encompassing. You should not discriminate upon the elderly, upon the PWD (persons with disabilities), upon gender, or whatever. It’s not like the Sogie na nakatuon sa mga [that is focused on] gays,” Sotto said.
Sotto said an anti-discrimination bill would have a better chance of passage in Congress.
“Of course it is just like putting together all the other bills na nagbabawal nun. Mas may pag-asa yun. Mas maganda ang pag-asa noon kesa nakacenter sa LGBT. It becomes class legislation automatically pagka nakacenter lang sa isa [if focused on one class],” he said.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, a Sogie bill proponent, said Panelo’s announcement was evidence of “policy confusion” in the Palace.
“While an anti-discrimination measure is welcome, the Sogie Equality Bill remains the best policy tool to protect members of the LGBT community from discrimination, harassment, and even violence. The Sogie Equality bill does not only define and prohibit discrimination, it also addresses stigma against persons with diverse Sogie through programs promoting equality and diversity. This protective mechanism is unique to LGBTs who experience not only discrimination but also stigma. We hope that President Duterte will seriously consider these points,” she said.
“Nonetheless, we will continue to move the Sogie Equality Bill forward even as we continue to listen to different voices and try to understand each other. We will also work to ensure that provisions against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are included in a comprehensive anti-discrimination measure. We will fight for equality on all fronts,” she addded. (PressONE.ph)