Press Release
February 14, 2017

Hontiveros: Stop the victim-blaming, pass the anti-discrimination bill

Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros called for a stop to the culture of victim blaming and gender discrimination during the second round of interpellations of the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB) on Monday.

Answering questions from Senators Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao and Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, Hontiveros explained that the proposed bill seeks to protect a person's Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) from discrimination and harm.

During the course of the interpellation, several such cases were discussed, among them the murder of Jennifer Laude, a 26-year-old Filipino transwoman Jennifer Laude, at the hands of United States Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton. When Pacquiao suggested that Pemberton was deceived by Laude into thinking she was straight, Hontiveros responded by saying that the victims should not be blamed for the heinous crime.

"Siya na nga ang pinatay, siya pa ang may sala. This is unacceptable. Let us not resort to victim-blaming in an attempt to excuse crimes on the grounds of someone's sexual orientation or gender identity," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros explained that Pacquaio was actually using the "gay and trans panic defense", a homophobic and transphobic defense against charges of assault and murder.

"This line of defense and logic has already been widely discredited. In fact in California, this so-called legal defense has been officially banned in murder trials, with the American Bar Association (ABA) strongly suggesting that other states should do the same," Hontiveros said.

Questions were also raised about which restrooms were appropriate for members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Hontiveros said that transwomen can use female restrooms while transmen and gay men can use male restrooms. The lady senator also cited the practice of gender-neutral restrooms, particularly in places such as coffee shops and business process outsourcing firms.

"We need to pass this law in order for people to be more gender sensitive and better understand the different dimensions of gender identity and sexual orientation. Hindi lahat ng bakla ay tinuturing ang kanilang mga sarili na babae o gustong mag-CR sa restroom ng babae," Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros is the current chairperson of the Senate committee on Women, Children, Family Relations and Gender Equality.

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