Discrimination vs. trans woman in QC mall raises calls for SOGIE bill passage

By Robert Vergara, CNN Philippines

The discrimination against a transgender woman who was barred from using a women’s comfort room in a mall in Quezon City is raising calls for the passage of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, author of the proposed measure in the Senate, denounced the incident, which she said was “unacceptable.”

“She is being harassed for living her truth. Discrimination against transgender people has to stop,” Hontiveros said on social media posts.

Gretchen Diez, 28, was handcuffed and brought to Quezon City Police District Station 7 Tuesday night for an unjust vexation complaint filed against her by the janitress of Farmer’s Plaza, a mall in Cubao, according to reports. This stemmed from Diez’ video recording of her confrontation with a janitress who barred her from using a women’s comfort room at the mall.

The janitress, identified as Chayra Ganal, later apologized to Diez through a written letter at the police station, and said she’s willing to study the rights of the members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning sector.

Diez was also released on the same night after the complaint was withdrew. However, Diez maintained that she will file charges against the mall for violating a Quezon City ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s SOGIE.

Advocate group Philippine Anti Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders condemned the harassment and called on lawmakers to “recognize the urgency of passing the SOGIE Equality Bill.”

“We will not be silenced while various cases of discrimination continue to happen all over the country. #SOGIEEqualityNow,” it said in a statement.

The SOGIE Equality bill, which seeks to penalize all forms of discrimination based on a person’s SOGIE, was refiled in the Senate by Hontiveros in June.

During the previous Congress, the House of Representatives passed the same measure on third and final reading. The bill’s counterpart in the Senate, however, was stuck at the plenary—with conservative senators Manny Pacquiao, Joel Villanueva, and Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III expressing opposition to the proposal.

Meanwhile, the Philippine LGBT Chamber of Commerce said it is open to conduct dialogues with businesses to educate them on how to ensure the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.

“As many businesses worldwide are now realizing, promoting diversity and inclusion is not only (and fundamentally) an act of compassion and empathy, but also good business practice,” the group said in a statement.

It likewise urged the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to continue clamoring for the enactment of the SOGIE bill.

Online, mounting calls for the measure’s passage poured in following the incident.

“#SOGIEEqualityNow” was the top trending topic on Twitter Philippines.

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