Philippine House of Representatives passes LGBT rights bill

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-20 20:38:23|Editor: Zhou Xin
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MANILA, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine House of Representatives approved on Wednesday the third and final reading of a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, aiming to protect the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Voting 197-0, the lawmakers passed House Bill Number 4982 or an Act Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE).

Also known as SOGIE Equality Bill, it penalizes people found prohibiting and discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

The bill, co-authored by transgender Representative Geraldine Roman last year, punishes discriminatory acts such as denial of access to public services, refusing admission or expelling students in schools based on SOGIE, including SOGIE as a criteria for hiring or dismissal of workers, denying access to health services, denying the application for professional licenses and similar documents, and imposing disciplinary actions that are harsher than customary due to the student's SOGIE.

It also punishes act denying access to establishments, facilities, and services open to the general public, forcing a person to undertake any medical or psychological examination to determine or alter one's SOGIE, and subjecting persons to harassment motivated by the offenders bias against the offended party's SOGIE, which may come in the form of any medium, including telecommunications and social media.

Those who will be convicted of committing these acts will be fined not less than 100,000 pesos (1,962 U.S. dollars) but not more than 500,000 pesos (9,812 U.S. dollars), or be imprisoned for less than one year but not more than six years or both.

The bill has been repeatedly refiled for the past 17 years but failed to take off.

Last year, Roman, the first transgender member of the House of Representatives in the Philippines' history, took to the podium to urge other representatives in the House to finally pass the bill. A similar measure is pending before the Senate.