By Azer Parrocha
MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte supports the fair treatment of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, Malacañang said on Thursday after a report on a transwoman being discriminated against went viral.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the act of barring transwoman Gretchen Diez from entering a female restroom in a mall in Cubao, Quezon City is a “violation” of the city’s Gender-Fair Ordinance that protects members of the LGBT community from discrimination.
Under the local measure, it is unlawful to “ridicule, to commit harassment, disallow the entry from any establishment, promote discrimination and to commit any act that demeans the dignity and self-respect of a person.”
“Our position is we have to respect LGBT. Tsaka (And) another thing, there is an ordinance. There is an ordinance to respect them so violation yung gingawa doon sa transgender (so what was done to the transgender is a violation),” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
Panelo, however, acknowledged that the mall and cleaning crew has issued an apology to Diez and expressed willingness to be educated on LGBT rights.
“I remember the President expressed support for the LGBT one time so I think he will support that kind, gusto nun palaging (he always wants) fair treatment to all,” Panelo said.
“We have to respect the rights of all people. Kung yan ang choice nila eh (If it’s their choice),” he added.
Asked if Duterte would certify as urgent the passage of the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression equality (SOGIE) bill, Panelo said he will ask the President but will leave it to Congress to act upon it.
“Passage will depend on the wisdom of the lawmakers. We cannot encroach on that, sa kanila ‘yun (that’s theirs),” Panelo said.
The SOGIE bill, which was refiled by Senator Risa Hontiveros in the 18th Congress, seeks to penalize discrimination against the LGBT community by a fine of PHP100,000 to PHP500,000 or imprisonment of six to 12 years subject to the discretion of the court.
Senators Christopher “Bong” Go and Imee Marcos have supported Hontiveros’ SOGIE bill.
Earlier, Mayor Joy Belmonte slammed the mall management for rejecting Diez from entering a female restroom and assured the members of the LGBT community that Quezon City will protect their rights. (PNA)