The fight for equality and anti-discrimination for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning dubbed LGBTQ has existed for more than two decades now. SOGIE bill is one maneuver that seeks to put an end to discrimination and inequality suffered by the minorities in this group.
Since the draft saw the light about twenty years ago, it has elicited a set of mixed reactions from different factions across the globe. As the bill continues to receive endorsements and criticisms in equal measures, a more in-depth look at SOGIE bill meaning will help us understand what it seeks to achieve.
SOGIE bill definition
What is SOGIE bill? This is probably the first question that came in your mind when you heard about the law draft. The word SOGIE is an acronym for Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Expression. The bill defines these terms as follows.
Sexual Orientation refers to who a person who is sexually attracted. There are about five subcategories in this section. They include;
- Asexual - This is a person who is not attracted to anyone
- Straight - This is an individual who has a sexual attraction to a person of the opposite gender.
- Bisexual - It is a person who exhibits sexual attractions to persons of the same gender, and those of the opposite gender.
- Gay - A man attracted to a fellow man.
- Lesbian - A woman attracted to a fellow woman.
Gender Identity, on the other hand, is how a person presents or feels about his gender. Under this category, human beings are subdivided into two, cisgender and transgender.
- A cisgender - This is a case where an individual feels that the gender assigned to him during birth is true to what he is.
- A transgender - People in this group have a feeling that they do not belong to the gender assigned to them at birth. They have a conviction that they belong to the opposite gender. The group is identified as transmen and transwomen.
Lastly, Gender Expression is typically how an individual presents him/herself. It could be in the way they dress, speak, or their general life, among others.
What is the purpose of SOGIE bill?
The aim of this legislation is to protect the Filipinos who are members of the LGBTQ against discrimination. On August 13th, 2018, Gretchen Custodio Diez, a transwoman, was denied access to her preferred bathroom by a janitress at Cubao mall. The incident sparked debates on how gender equality has failed.
Whereas the rights of LGBTQ members are protected on paper, Filipinos are no strangers to incidences of abuse and hate against these minorities. Therefore, the SOGIE bill Philippines seeks to penalize any form of discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expressions.
SOGIE bill summary
What does SOGIE bill means? The law draft identifies a particular set of actions which it deems as discriminatory. Anyone, corporation, or organization that violates them is liable to charges in the court.
Among the activities that are discriminatory according to this bill include;
- Harassment by police or military
- Being denied access to health facilities and other establishments
- Denial or revocation of formal recognition, accreditation, or registration of institution, political party, or organization.
- Revocation or denial of a driving licence.
- Being subjected to physical or medical examinations without own consent.
- Being denied admission or expelled by learning institutions.
- Promoting stigma among the LGBTQ
Where does the SOGIE bill stand on marriage
Does the bill support same-sex marriage? The answer is 'NO' because marriage right is not mentioned in the draft. The equality legislation recognizes that a transwoman is legally a man and cannot be allowed to get married to a man. However, such people should not be deprived off privileges or discriminated against.
Who proposed SOGIE bill?
The Congress of the Philippines proposed the Anti-discriminatory bill (ADB), commonly known as the SOGIE. It was first tabled in the Congress in 2000 by Etta Rosales and the late senator, Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Is SOGIE bill approved?
When the bill was filed in the 11th Congress, it passed the third reading in the House of Representatives but stalled in the senate. When it was refiled in the 14th Congress, it reached the committee level. It was again lobbied in the 15th and 16th Congress to no fruition. The current version, Senate Bill No. 689, is yet to be passed by Congress.
SOGIE bill pros and cons
The draft has the following advantages and disadvantages.
- It advocates for equality and fairness not only to the LGBTQ members but also to every person in the country.
- It seeks to control the behavior and perception of the general public towards others based on sexual orientation.
- The LGBTQ members will have access to hospital services and other facilities without fear of discrimination.
Disadvantages of SOGIE bill
- The law could be used by the LGBTQ members to threaten other people that may not agree to their terms.
- The draft seeks to undermine religious and academic freedoms and principles.
- Transgender will go beyond the bounds of standard behavior and moral principle.
The bill has received support from various people in the Philippines, including rights activists, celebrities, and politicians. Below are some of their tweets.
Is SOGIE bill counterproductive?
The bill has elicited a set of mixed reactions from different people and writers around the world. In an article published in Manila Bulletin, Dr. Benardo M. Villegas finds the bill counterproductive.
In his article, he argues that even though the movers of this bill have the best intentions, they have their facts wrong. He points out that the bill errs when it classifies human beings according to sexual orientation or gender identity. The writer feels that classification should be based on a distinction that is substantial and not superficial.
He goes further to explain that classification based on sexual orientation is superficial because there is no permanence in the distinction. It is so because the attraction of people to the same sex may vary in degree, and additionally, there are cases of diminished same-sex attractions.
Dr. Benardo M. Villegas is not the only one opposed to the bill if the reaction on Twitter is anything to go by. Below are some of the responses from a faction opposed to it.
Sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression has hitherto been a bone of contention in the Philippines and across the globe. With conflicting opinions about the LGBTQ, it is difficult for any government to pass into law a bill such as the SOGIE.
SOGIE bill is not new to most of us. However, not everyone has had a chance to understand what the draft is all about. As you wait to see whether it will finally be passed into law, much of what is covered here is an actual representation of its content.