Note: For CEBU MONTHLY: A monthly newsletter of the Cebu Provincial Government
courage of policy-makers at the local or even national level to introduce
measures to defend, via legislation, the so-called “last socially acceptable
prejudice” is both an act of courage and love.
because only a handful, I dare say, will walk the path to damnation because
stigma, discrimination, marginalization and oppression based on sexual
orientation and gender identity (SOGI) is still apparent. While the LGBT
community don’t ask for “special rights” much less, “special love” the
proponents of anti-discrimination ordinance in the province and a bill in
Congress is a love offered to the community and I am forever grateful.
Much to my
relief that the LGBT community is blessed to partner with PB member Arleigh
Sitoy in the province of Cebu and Rep. Teddy Casiño in the House of
Representatives. Both men will enjoy the support of the LGBT community for
their wisdom, compassion and courage.
2011, PB Sitoy, without much fanfare, introduced an Anti-discrimination
ordinance that will protect LGBTs in the workplace. His ordinance is
significantly important as well as timely and relevant because it is very
specific and hit the nail right on its head – protecting LGBTs in the workplace.
the LGBTs in the workplace is more urgent than ever. Most LGBTs are working
tirelessly to support their family. By protecting their constitutionally
guaranteed right to work, PB Sitoy risks the ire of some but is assured of a
place in our history as the first to defend the rights and responsibilities of
LGBTs in the workplace. Hence, the urgency of approving the
ordinance is now in the hands of the entire members of the Cebu Provincial
Board. I hope and pray that by tackling this issue, as initiated by PB Sitoy,
the entire members of the Provincial Board, will be inclusive, rather in
exclusive in legislating measures to protect all Cebuanos regardless of
their gender and sexuality.
It is also
high time that a major provincial local government unit come up with a local
law that helps protect and advance the LGBT community. Cebu province is known
for various titles and accolades. It is time to add another feather in the
province cap as being the most LGBT friendly in this part of the world.
also to cite Senatoriable Teddy Casiño’s House Bill 1483 or An Act Defining
Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and
Providing Penalties Thereof filed in Congress in July 15, 2010. Like PB Sitoy,
Rep. Casiño’s bill will likewise render legal protection to LGBTs nationwide.
specifically for LGBTs, it is notable that various cities around the Philippines,
namely Cebu City, Davao City and Angeles City in Pampanga successfully passed
anti-discrimination ordinance that penalizes any form of discrimination against
diffently abled persons, different sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion.
like to reiterate important legal measures that is useful in discussing PB
Sitoy’s ordinance, to wit:
1987 Constitution declares that “the State values the dignity of every human
person and guarantees full respect for human rights” (Article 2, Section 11,
1987 Constitution). It also imposes on the State the duty to ensure the
fundamental equality before the law of women and men (Article 2, Section 14);
equal protection clause in the Bill of Rights logically requires that laws are
implemented and applied equally and uniformly on all persons; be treated in the
same manner with regard to privileges conferred and the liabilities imposed;
Philippines is a signatory to international agreements on the respect for human
rights of all persons regardless of any condition, including sex or sexual
orientation. These international instruments have consistently been interpreted
by international institutions, such as the United Nations Human Rights
Committee (UNHRC) and the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,
to include protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
has interpreted Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights (ICCPR), which obliges States to “guarantee to all persons equal and
effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, color,
sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status,” to include a protection against discrimination
on the basis of sexual orientation.
Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has also interpreted Article
2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(ICESCR) to include sexual orientation in the Covenant’s non-discrimination
present and future realities that exist in the country should not be left
behind by both national and local laws. The noble intentions of numerous
national laws and international agreements are still wanting with respect to
our LGBTs. They continue to be discriminated by society at large, primarily
because of misconceptions and systemic state ignorance. LGBTs often find it
difficult to exercise their rights as persons, workers, professionals, and
Prejudicial practices and policies – mostly unstated and unwritten – based on
sexual orientation and gender identity severely limit the exercise and
enjoyment of the basic rights and fundamental freedoms in schools, workplaces,
commercial establishments, the civil service, even the security services;
and private companies block the promotion and prevent the career advancement of
gay or lesbian employees due to the deeply embedded notion that homosexuality
denotes weakness. Laws such as the current anti-vagrancy law are also abused by
the law enforcement agencies to harass gay men; and
importantly, LGBTs do not want nor claim additional “special” or “additional
rights” in law. They only deserve to have equal observance of the rights, privileges
and liabilities as those of our heterosexual compatriots.
Rep. Teddy Casiño on the proposed ordinance of PB Member Sitoy: “The proposed
provincial ordinance aims to extend the observance and advancement of the same
rights as those of heterosexual persons that are denied to LGBTs in the
workplace by current laws or practices: basic civil, political, social and
therefore imperative to define and penalize practices that discriminate against
LGBTs in the workplace. It is our fervent wish that the Cebu Provincial Board
pass its ordinance to protect the rights of workers and employees in the
province. It would be a landmark ordinance. It will be a first in the Visayas
and the country. We fully support the passage of this provincial
ordinance for the rights of LGBTs in the workplace.