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Brainstorm: The Next Generation | So sad for SOGIE

June is LGBT PRIDE month, so I thought it appropriate to give my ten cents worth on the topic of the status of LGBT rights in our country.

“I’m straight but PROUD!” is a quip I like telling my gay friends to say that while I am straight, I have always supported the upliftment of the rights of the members of our LGBT Community. (Note: I don’t mean Straight Pride which is a term associated with anti-lgbt rights)

Is it really a problem, some people ask? YES, IT IS!!!

Did you know that some government offices actually make it a policy to require their employees, even lawyers, to execute affidavits to attest to their gender orientation just so they can be allowed to wear pants, pantsuits, or the like, to work? I have personally heard gripes from government lawyers who were required to execute such sworn statements that they were lesbians just so they could wear pants to court.

This is ridiculous, just about as ridiculous as people in Imperial Manila designing and imposing pencil cut skirts for female public school teachers even those in far flung places who have to ride habal-habal motorcycles, bancas, or have to go up mountains to get to their schools, but that’s another story altogether.

Discrimination in the workplace is very prevalent as there have been so many instances of highly efficient and hard-working employees who have been ostracized, or worse, to the point of pressuring them to resign just because they turned out to be homosexual or lesbian. Some are denied employment outright because of it.

It is shocking to know that there are still establishments that refuse entry to people who are openly gay. Just last year, Jervi Li a popular gay impersonator under the screen name Kaladkaren Davila was denied entry into a Makati sports bar where the bouncer was caught on video saying “BAKLA” when asked who were not allowed to enter.

There have even been professionals, including medical practitioners, who have refused their services to people just because of their sexual orientation. Talk about the Hypocrite and the Hippocratic Oath!

Instances of even worse cases of discrimination, even violence, against gay people are very prevalent in society today.

It is no surprise that many would rather keep their sexual orientation a secret than suffer the ire and social backlash from being openly gay.

Thence, came the SOGIE Bill, which is short for Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression Equality Bill also known as the Anti-Discrimination Bill which basically prevents and punishes acts of discrimination based on, or arising out of, the victim’s SOGIE.

Nineteen (19) years in the making, there was much hope for it when the House of Representatives finally passed the bill in 2017. However, in the Senate, it broke the record for the length of time a bill has remained in limbo in interpellation from the end of 2017 until finally FAILING to pass it up to the present.

So called “conservative” senators have been vocally opposed to the bill citing mostly religious grounds. How can you claim to be Christian by shoving your personal religious views down everybody else’s throats?

The fact is that some of the kindest and most Christian people I know are gay.

What is so un-Christian about protecting the rights of others? If there are portions of the bill that are just unacceptable then, at the very least, propose what amendments are possible. Senators denying the entire bill outright because of supposedly “religious” grounds reminds me of the imprisonment of Galileo because he said that the Earth revolved around the Sun which was “heretical” at the time.

Some people, a.k.a. bigots, even go so far as to say that the world would be better off without homosexuals. If so, we would not have had the art of Michaelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci, the literary works of Oscar Wilde and Virginia Woolfe, the music of Tchaikovsky and Freddie Mercury nor the science of Sir Francis Bacon, the father of the Scientific Method, to name just a few.

I am so happy to be a Davaoeño because, unlike some of our national lawmakers, we have courageous and open minded councilors who, in 2012, passed, by a UNANIMOUS VOTE, an Anti-Discrimination Ordinance prohibiting all forms of discrimination based, not only on SOGIE but including race, color, descent, national or ethnic origins and religious beliefs.

It is enlightening to note that the Davao City Council was, at the time, led by the icon of machismo himself, then Vice-Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte.

I hope that, with him as the President, the 18th Congress will follow suit.

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