Tell it to SunStar: EnGendeRights: Sona glaringly silent on the rights of LGBTIQ people

·3 min read

EnGendeRights executive director Clara Rita Padilla has said that while President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. “mentioned addressing violence against women and rights of people who suffer abuses” in his first State of the Nationa Address (Sona) on Monday, July 25, 2022, her group wanted “to hear about his administration’s plans to address the prevailing violations of LGBTIQ people’s rights.”

“We call on the president to uphold the rights of LGBTIQ people against violence and to equality, diversity and inclusivity and certify the Sogie Anti-Discrimination Bills as priority. As the representative of the people, it is incumbent upon the president to push for the immediate passage of the Sogie Anti-Discrimination Bills,” said Padilla, a lawyer.

LGBTIQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex and queer; Sogie stands for sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

Padilla said the LGBTIQ people “suffer discrimination and violence at the very hands of their own parents and family, their schools and employers and in their own communities.”

“They are subjected to rape, torture, murder, violence, and abuse because of their Sogie, and experiences of discrimination and violence also lead to suicides of LGBTIQ people,” Padilla said. “All over the Philippines, countless LGBTIQ people suffer discrimination and are subjected to hate crimes. Indeed, this is cause for alarm and signals the urgency to pass the Sogie Anti-Discrimination Law and the Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Law to prohibit all types of discrimination and violence against LGBTIQ people and promote equality of LGBTIQ people.”

Padilla further said “lesbian women and girls, bisexual women, and transgender men and boys are preyed upon by sexual predators.”

“I assisted a young lesbian who was sexually assaulted by her supervisor who claimed he will get her to like men and another lesbian minor who was sexually assaulted by a much older man. We need to take immediate actions to end these violations,” the lawyer said.

Such violations are “a cause for grave concern. There is widespread discrimination against LGBTIQ people, yet the national Sogie Anti-Discrimination Law has not been passed into law despite the lapse of over 23 years since the first anti-discrimination bill was first filed in 1999. This delayed passage of the law clearly shows a society that has failed to stand up for the rights of LGBTIQ people. It is time that our national laws clearly provide protection of LGBTIQ people against discrimination and violence; otherwise, LGBTIQ people will continue to suffer human rights violations with impunity and the Philippines will continually fall short of complying with its obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights of LGBTIQ people.”

The EnGendeRights said the Sogie Anti-Discrimination Bills must be passed into law to explicitly prohibit discrimination and abuses against LGBTIQ people and provide effective remedies and affirmative actions.

Padilla said “a law upholding the right to one’s Sogie protects LGBTIQ people against all forms of discrimination and abuses where erring individuals would be held liable and affirmative actions would be in place to promote and respect the rights of LGBTIQ people.”

“With affirmative actions in place,” the lawyer said, “modules and trainings on LGBTIQ rights will be ensured in schools, local government units, and workplaces; establishments will be required to provide All-Gender Comfort Rooms; scholarship, educational, employment, business, health care, and housing needs of LGBTIQ people will be addressed; access to justice will be ensured through responsive services including access to barangay protection orders and restraining orders; discriminatory policies will be repealed and the enactment of inclusive laws and policies will be prioritized.”

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