Press Release
June 4, 2019

Privilege Speech of Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros on SOGIE Bill #ResistTogether

Mr. President my dear colleagues, it has been 50 years since the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York City. From the first brick thrown at the Stonewall Inn in June 1969, the LGBTIQA movement has come a long, long way.

Let me update you on recent developments:

In 2018, the World Health Organization reclassified 'gender incongruence' under "conditions related to sexual health" making transgenderism no longer a mental, behavioral and neurodevelopmental disorder.

Discriminatory bills in the US that restrict access to facilities for transgender students were withdrawn in South Dakota and were not put into vote in Texas.

In India, in a landmark Supreme Court decision, section 377 of their penal code which outlawed same-sex conduct was held unconstitutional.

Their neighbor, Nepal, now has a trans-inclusive civil service when their Supreme Court in 2007 ruled that individuals should have their gender legally recognized based on "self-feeling". Nepalese should not have to limit themselves to "female" or "male" anymore.

Pakistani activists push for legal recognition of transgender people ensured them of health insurance and voting rights.

Ukraine, also now has an inclusive medical form respecting Ukrainians' gender identity giving them better access to healthcare.

Meanwhile, in a legal first, a transman in Botswana was allowed by their High Court to hold official documents to reflect his gender identity.

The European Court of Justice granted same-sex spouses of EU citizens same residency rights as heterosexual couples.

Israel allowed joint parental adoption for same-sex couples.

Bermuda, Finland, Germany, Malta, and Australia recently joined the bandwagon of progress and embraced marriage equality, while courts in Austria, Colombia, South Africa, and the US ruled that defining marriage between a man and woman only was unconstitutional.

And very recently, Mr. President, my dear colleagues, on May 17, 2019, Taiwan approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, the first in Asia. Also, a very fitting way to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

These waves of progress have been surging high and have kept on rolling and rolling overcoming threats, backlashes, even violent attacks to members of the LGBTIQA movement. Indeed, the resistance is well and alive and is coming for the day of reckoning to end centuries of injustice.

Sa Pilipinas kaya kelan?

Sa loob nang plenary hall na ito, sa kamay nang 24 na tao, nakasalalay ang karapatan ng ating mga kapatid, anak, kaibigan na LGBTIQA sa pagkakapantay-pantay.

Ni hindi man lang ba natin palulusutin ang isang SOGIE Equality bill?

We have been interpellating this bill for almost three years. At habang busy tayo sa kakadebate, nagpapatuloy ang diskriminasyon:

  • A photograph of a gay teacher dressed up as a bride in a non-school and personal event was used by officials of a private school to terminate his employment

  •  A transwoman employee was forced to cut her long hair to comply with a human resource policy concerning prescribed haircut for male employees.

  •  A transwoman employee experienced harassment after being subjected to a pre-employment medical examination.

  •  A lesbian was constrained to dress up in a stereotypical feminine way in order to be considered for the job.

  •  A second-year high school student in the town of Batangas committed suicide due to depression, following incidents of bullying by his classmates accusing him of being gay.

  •  A group of transwomen students from Jose Rizal Memorial State University sought redress from the CHR for being forced by their dean to cut their hair and comply with a "prescribed male haircut."

  •  Sa PUP Senior High School naman, hindi pinapa-attend ng graduation ang mga transwomen students kung hindi magpapagupit nang panglalaki.

  •  LGBT PLHIVs experience disqualification from claiming health benefits upon subsequent contraction of HIV.

  •  A lesbian couple was not entitled to a home in a relocation site because they are not considered as a family.

  •  LGBT couples cannot claim benefits from SSS, GSIS, Health or Life Insurance.

Habang patuloy na dinedelay ang bill na ito ilan pa sa ating mga kapatid, anak, kaibigan ang mahaharang sa airport, ang hindi papasukin sa mga bars, ang mawawalan nang trabaho, ang hindi makakagraduate?

Worse, ilan pa ang makakaranas ng hate crime? Ilang pang Richelle Bequilla, Jordan Borabien, Rolando Apolinario, Joice Florance, Alex Nodado?

Ilan pang mga Jennifer Laude?

As Thailand's first elected transgender Member of Parliament, Tanwarin Sukkhapisit said, "the LGBT people don't ask for much, just equality."

Halos magtatatlong-taon na ang SOGIE Equality sa Senado. Mr. President, my dear colleagues, why are we still debating on this? In my memory, no other bill has been kept at bay and been under the period of interpellations for this long. It was one of the first bills sponsored in 2016. Should we still debate about something as basic as equality? For three years, really?

It is lamentable, Mr. President, my dear colleagues, that this delay happened in our very own chamber.

Good thing, hope will never be silent, says Harvey Milk. And this movement will not be stopped. Our interpellations helped in popularizing the concept of Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression or SOGIE. Workplaces and local governments started enacting their own anti-discrimination policies. Celebrities have all come out in support of the bill. Organizations, including Catholic student councils, have also called on us to pass it. The campaigns #YestoEquality and #LoveisAllWeNeed have gathered massive support from the public and across sectors.

This is real progress. But we need more.

When marriage equality was passed in Taiwan, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen tweeted: "We took a big step towards true equality, and made Taiwan a better country."

Our President, during a speech last May 30, on the other hand, said that he used to be gay but he cured himself.

Yes, Mr. President, my dear colleagues, maybe we need a "cure". A cure for inequality, a cure for stigma and discrimination, a cure for bigotry and homophobia.

Even a cure for legislative inaction.

As we celebrate PRIDE this month, I invite incoming legislators to join me and my colleagues who favor this bill, to continue this fight until the 18th Congress.

There is a momentum, as big as a rainbow, we need to sustain. From the Stonewall riots 50 years ago to the recent victories of LGBTIQA advocates in Nepal, Israel, Taiwan, and elsewhere in the world, this wave is inevitably coming to our shores. The SOGIE Equality Bill will become a law. And it is only a matter of time.

We will come back in this hall bolder and louder for our rights. With hope in our hearts and justice clenched in our fists. I will remain your ally, your Equality Champ and together, we will resist.

Happy PRIDE! And see you at the march!

News Latest News Feed