The Anti-Discrimination Bill, which was pending in Congress for 17 years (i.e. way too long) before it was finally considered for Senate Plenary, seeks to address all forms of discrimination and violence based on one’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (SOGIE). While this bill focuses on the LGBTQ community specifically, it also seeks to acknowledge those with disabilities and those of different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Amendments are currently being made by the committee before a new version is approved, which will also be subject to another reading.
To give you an idea of what Risa Hontiveros had to deal with — and to an extent, what a lot of brilliant women have to deal with when surrounded by incompetent macho idiots — let’s recount some of the highlights of the Feb. 13 hearing. Manny Pacquiao opened the floor by stating that he supported the bill, but was concerned with cross-dressing and how it can be used for fraud. What should have been a minor concern was one of his main arguments for the remainder of the session. They talked about it for like 40 minutes. And as usual, Tito Sotto joined the conversation, asking what would happen in the event a crossdresser comes in the bathroom while a woman is in her underwear. Ah, yes, because women run around the public bathrooms in their underwear like, all the time guys. Yet another brilliant speculation from our dearest Tito Sotto, kind of like how he claims HIV cannot be contracted through sexual contact. He even brought up the concern of the dress codes at private establishments — specifically, golf clubs — and if transgendered people (he incorrectly referred to them as SOGIE during the session) would be exempted from wearing shirts with collars. Yes, this really happened.
It should be common sense by now that one’s SOGIE has nothing to do with these possible acts of crime. People shouldn’t be deprived of their rights just because of these incorrect correlations. Hontiveros reiterated that there are already laws penalizing those who commit acts of fraud and lasciviousness. Clearly, there is a need for education on SOGIE and the basic law on the Senate floor.
Despite all of this, Hontiveros continued to address these concerns with an unbelievable amount of patience, redirecting the conversation to the actual bill. Since a lot of people are still ill-informed about the LGBTQ community and SOGIE (among them, two senators with a weird fear of cross-dressing spies), it is important that people like Risa are at the forefront educating and pushing for this positive change. Regardless of the questions, she successfully addressed all of them, no matter how ridiculous, with grace. Not to shame, but to enlighten. And really, you wouldn’t expect any less from her.
The concerns of cross-dressing and the use of bathrooms continued until the end of the session. Tito Sotto ended his concerns by stating he supports the bill with regards to discrimination, but his only issues were that of the use of bathrooms and cross-dressing.