Senator Joel Villanueva vowed on Wednesday to come up with a genuine anti-discrimination law which will protect not just the civil rights and legal privileges of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) but also the people's rights to exercise their religious freedom.
“We just want to make sure that the bill does not cause harm to our rights to exercise our own beliefs without compromising the rights of others,” Villanueva explained.
Further, Villanueva believes that the basic rights of all citizens, aside from the members of the LGBT community, should be respected and protected.
"One cannot deny that cases of discrimination exist not just against the LGBT community but also against people's race, age, religion or belief, social class, civil status, and medical condition," Villanueva stressed.
"We hear stories of prejudice in the workplace, schools, hospitals, and other establishments and institutions. Unfortunately, there are even employers who prioritize the single job applicants over the married ones. Hence, we felt the need to push for protective laws and policies that would prevent discrimination and human rights abuses against all citizens," the senator said.
The Christian senator further quoted the Bible to say that "everyone, regardless of age, gender, status, ethnicity or belief --and that includes the LGBT group--is entitled to basic human rights because according to Romans 2:11, there is no partiality with God," he said.
Under Senate Bill No. 935 or the proposed Anti-Discrimination Act filed by Sen. Risa Hontiveros, discriminatory practices include: the promotion and encouragement of stigma on the basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) in the media and educational institutions; the need for disclosing sexual orientation in the criteria for hiring and other human resource actions in the workplace; the non-admission or expulsion from any education or training institution on the basis of SOGIE; the denial of access to health services and public establishments and facilities; among others.
If passed into law, the bill proposes the granting of penalties ranging from Php100,000 to Php500,000 and imprisonment ranging from one year to 12 years for those who will be caught in violation of the said law.
An Anti-Discrimination Oversight Committee will also be created which shall monitor the compliance of public institutions to the law provisions and audit national and local policies that discriminate on the basis of SOGIE.
"We need an anti-discrimination law that will promote genuine equality--a measure that is concrete and holistic. We will never allow the suppression of people's rights to exercise their religious freedom or cultural beliefs," Villanueva further stressed.