Buzz on passage of SOGIE bill renewed amid proposed ‘heterosexual rights’ bill

November 10, 2022 - 2:36 PM
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community take part at the 2022 Metro Manila Pride March and Festival held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex grounds in Pasay City on Saturday, June 25, 2022 (KJ Rosales/The Philippine STAR)

A bill “recognizing, defining and protecting the rights of heterosexuals” was filed by Rep. Benny Abante (Manila, 6th District).

This prompted LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, (questioning), intersex, asexual, and (agender) advocates to once again bring up that the SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression) Equality Bill covers the rights of all genders. 

The SOGIE bill, which has been pushed for decades in Congress, was consistently opposed by Abante and other conservative lawmakers, claiming there is no need to pass a law against gender discrimination. 

“The SOGIESC Equality Bill in no way says it is a law purely for LGBTQIA+ persons,” Bahaghari chairperson Reyna Valmores said in a tweet on Wednesday, November 9. 

“Kaya po SOGIESC EQUALITY — it seeks EQUALITY among all Filipinos regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression by uplifting those who too often face discrimination,” she added.

“Wala pong pakinabang ang isang batas na ‘for heterosexuals,’ considering that heterosexual o straight ang matagal nang tinitingnan bilang ‘normal'” she continued

Valmores deemed the proposed bill a “pathetic joke of a law, clearly drafted to mock those advocating for gender equality.”

“It is a waste of resources, space, and precious time better spent affirmatively addressing the actual concerns of Filipinos facing discrimination and violence,” she said

Likewise, TV personality and trans woman Kaladkaren questioned the need to legislate the heterosexual bill.

“Again, giving equal rights to the LGBTQIA+ community does not mean fewer rights for others. It’s not a pie. How can they grant this “Heterosexual Act” when heteros aren’t really oppressed? Ang galeng,” Kaladkaren said

What is ‘heterosexual rights’ bill?

Under House Bill No. 5717, it guarantees the following rights to heterosexuals:

  • adhere to, practice, proclaim, promote, propagate, defend and protect their religion and religious beliefs, convictions and standards without interference and/or abridgment;
  • practice and enjoy their religious profession and worship without interference or abridgment with the right to exclude therefrom others of different beliefs or faith;
  • freely express and communicate with others, privately or publicly, verbally or in writing or through print or broadcast media or through social media platforms that now exist or that may hereafter be developed;
  • freely express, exercise, and impose, in running or operating their churches, businesses, schools or workplaces; and
  • freely express their views, verbally or in writing, privately or publicly, in print or broadcast media, or in social media platforms that now exist or may hereafter be developed about homosexuality, bisexuality, and on transgenders and queers according to their religious beliefs and practices and to biblical principles and standards.

Meanwhile, the following are prohibited under this measure:

  • preventing, prohibiting, abridging, or otherwise interfering with the free exercise and enjoyment by heterosexuals of any of their rights;
  • attempting to prohibit, abridge, or otherwise interfere with the free exercise and enjoyment by heterosexuals of any of their rights under this Act;
  • threatening, directly or indirectly, in any form, a homosexual for exercising any of his/ her rights under this Act.

Violators of the proposed law may be imprisoned for five to seven years and fined P100,000 to P200,000. 

“Heterosexuals should be respected and protected,” the pastor-turned-lawmaker said, noting that they “are actual and direct creations of God.”

‘Legitimizing bigotry’

“Drag Race Philippines” Season 1 runner-up Marina Summers raised an eyebrow over Abante’s statement. 

“Equal rights for everyone doesn’t mean less rights for your so-called ‘direct creations of God’. Oppressed ka teh? At kung ganyan din lang ang hulma ng ‘direct creations of God,’ buti nalang bakla ako,” the drag queen said.

Some also said the bill weaponizes religion and legitimizes bigotry against LGBTQIA members. 

“Ano na naman to? Wala ka magawa girl? Heterosexual act pero puro religious freedom and weaponization of religion ang nakikita ko. This is a blatant attempt to enable bigotry under the guise of religion. Mahal mahal ng bilihin ito iniisip mo! Tumino ka nga!” a Twitter user said

“Under this bill, heterosexual people are given the ‘right’ to practice their religion and ‘freedom’ to express their views on homosexuality. This only fosters a dangerous and deadly culture of impunity and bigotry that claimed the lives of many LGBT individuals,” Laguna-based LGBT group Lakampati said in a statement. 

“To sum it up, HB 5717 has its clear goals; to continue oppressing people outside of the heteronormative setup and strip LGBT people of inherent human rights, all while masquerading as a legitimate demand of the people that is validated, protected, and amplified by the law,” the group added

Associate Dean for Research and Creative Work at the Ateneo de Manila University and sociologist of religion Jayeel Cornelio shared a similar view, calling Abante’s bill “religious evil.”

“When you invoke ‘biblical principles’ to legitimize your bigotry, you are not protecting your right as a heterosexual. You are legalizing hatred against the LGBTQ+,” the scholar said in a tweet. 

“This bill must be called for what it truly is: religious evil,” Cornelio said. 

Human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, meanwhile, said that aside from legitimizing hate experienced by LGBTQIA, the heterosexual bill does not address gender discrimination issues.

“The proposed Heterosexual Act only serves to legitimize the very real oppression experienced by LGBTQIA Filipinos now,” Diokno said.

“Ang bill na ito ay nagbubulag-bulagan sa mga naranasang araw-araw na tinatanggihan ng serbisyo o tinatanggalan ng oportunidad sa eduksyon at trabaho dahil lang sa kanilang sexual orientation o gender identity/expression,” he continued.

The lawyer also called for the passage of the SOGIE bill.

“Ginagawa nitong [heterosexual bill] legal ang pagkait ng dignidad ng ibang tao. Anuman ang ating pinaniniwalaan, magkakasundo naman siguro tayong mali ito. Imbis nitong bill, dapat isabatas na ang SOGIE Law,” Diokno said.