Press Release
September 19, 2022

Opening Statement of Senator Risa Hontiveros
Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality
SOGIE Hearing
September 19, 2022

Six years ago, the Philippine Senate heard for the very first time a bill that explicitly protects our LGBTQIA+ kababayan from discrimination, and imposes penalties on discriminatory practices affecting them. This came seventeen years after the very first anti-discrimination bill was filed in Congress, but was never heard. And since then, harassment, discrimination, and violence continue to be part of their everyday life of LGBTQIA+ Filipinos.

Mga kababayan, hindi natin dapat hayaang magpatuloy ang ganito. While many claim that the Philippines is a country welcoming of the LGBTQ+, news are rife of abuses and discrimination against them. And these are just cases that land in the news, a tiny fraction of incidents that catch media's attention. You can just imagine how many cases remain unaccounted for, and in many instances remain hidden and unspoken. We are acutely aware of the persistent mocking and name-calling, which are often falsely considered harmless. We have heard of gender-based school and workplace discrimination. Kamakailan lang, may kumalat na social media post ni Dylan Silva, isang LGBT student mula sa Cavite State University na nag-suot ng necktie sa graduation photo. Sinabihan daw siya na hindi iflaflash ang litrato nya habang nagmamartsa dahil bawal daw ang cross-dressing. Sa kanyang post, ipinahayag niya ang kanyang pagkadismaya at naghingi pa ng patawad sa mga magulang niya. Mga hindi tinatanggap sa trabaho o di ma-promote, o di kaya'y pinagbabawalang pumasok sa ilang mga lugar because they do not conform to socially-accepted gender norms. These are some of the other stories.

Kailangan nating maintindihan at tanggapin na sentro sa usaping ito ay ang isyu ng diskriminasyon. Malalim na nakaugat na diskriminasyon. You and I know that we have to make this stop. We, as a society have to make things right.

Today, after twenty-three years since the first bill was filed, we not only look back at the tough journey the bill has gone through but we also look forward in hope that we finally pass a law that ensures that LGBT people enjoy the same rights that the non-LGBT enjoy. Let us make sure that they are able to stake their claim as equal members of society. It is my distinct honor to shepherd the passage of this bill, a bill whose time has come.

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