THE recent news-hogging toilet incident involving a transgender is the best argument against the proposed anti-discrimination bill which seeks to prohibit bias on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE), deputy speaker Eduardo Villanueva of the Citizens Battle Against Corruption (Cibac) party-list group said on Wednesday night.
The evangelist-turned-legislator, who founded the Jesus is Lord Church Worldwide, said the incident at the Farmers Plaza involving transgender Gretchen Diez has given the public “a first taste of how a SOGIE law will affect our lives.”
“It has given us an actual scenario of what life can be if such a law would exist, bringing us all to seriously consider whether we, as a nation, are willing to accept, hook-line-and-sinker, the philosophy, proposition, and penal nature of the SOGIE bill,” Villanueva said in a privilege speech.
Diez recently hogged the limelight after figuring in an altercation with a janitress in a Quezon City mall where she was allegedly discriminated against for entering the ladies’ comfort room and was detained after the mall’s management filed an unjust vexation complaint against her for going live on Facebook during the incident.
Diez, who was later released, filed a complaint against the shopping mall for allegedly violating a city ordinance banning discrimination against members of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III has previously claimed to have been able to secure a CCTV footage showing that there was a queue of women trying to get into the restroom and some complained that a man should not be inside the ladies’ room.
Villanueva expressed strong opposition against the SOGIE bill, saying that in its current form and provisions, the measure “will not promote equality but will, instead, unduly give ‘special’ rights to some members of our society at the expense of the rights of the other members and to the detriment of the social order in our community.”
While he is in support of protecting the human rights of Filipinos who belong to the LGBTQ sector, the lawmaker said he also believes that the “practice and protection of one’s rights should never be above another’s.”
Villanueva said the proposed legislation undermines the role of parents in the family, saying that while the State recognizes the sanctity of family life and protecting and strengthening the family as a basic autonomous social institution, this is not the case under the provisions of the bill.
“Parents are the foundation of a family. We are our children’s chief guardians, guiding them as they navigate through life. This role is all-encompassing and should naturally involve all matters involving our children – including their questions about their gender identity. Yet, I noticed that out of the 13 bills I reviewed, only three will give the parents the full rights to do so,” he said.
The lawmaker said that in 10 of the bills, parents must secure a family court order should they want their children to undertake any medical or psychological examination in matters related to SOGIE.
“Since when has it become our official policy to give the government more authority to decide for our children’s lives, especially on an issue as sensitive as their identity? When they have questions or confusions, do we not, as a family, sit down with our children and try to talk things out? Do we not, as parent and child, try to find the answers together – whether it involves medical or psychological procedure or not? If the SOGIE Bill passes into law, this, too, shall be regulated,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva said the bill also threatens academic freedom, noting that a number of the proposed SOGIE bills prohibit such institutions to deny educational access to a student based only on his/her SOGIE.
“What if a Catholic school expels a transwoman who insists on cross-dressing in school despite getting a ton of warnings? Will the purported law require above educational institutions to adjust their policies accordingly, thus, forcing them to go against the very principles on which their institutions have been established?” he asked.
The JIL founder said that while the bill does not penalize religious speeches, there is still a loophole in the measure.
“What happens to a Christian like me, and to the majority of the people in this chamber, if we are to be threatened by punishment every time we share our Bible-based beliefs on matters of transgenders and homosexuals?” Villanueva said.
“Mr. Speaker, we respect the lives they choose to live, but to make us conform to their lifestyle with the threat of punishment under our necks if we do not is, in itself, a violation of our own rights,” he said.