Rep. Geraldine Roman (Bataan, 1 st District) yesterday called on Rotarians to join her in the fight for gender equality, inclusiveness and acceptance.
Roman, co-author of House Bill Number 4982 or An Act Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE), spoke before about 600 Rotarians at the Rotary International District 3850 conference at L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City.
Roman, the first transgender woman elected to the Philippine Congress, said that while the SOGIE Equality bill was unanimously approved by the Lower House by a vote of 198-0, it is facing opposition from some in the Senate and from religious fundamentalists groups.
The SOGIE Equality bill protects members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community from discriminatory acts, she said.
“Equality is very dear to me because I know how it is to be discriminated against,” Roman said, pointing out that very painful insults were hurled at her by her political opponents when she first ran for Congress.
Her opponents told the people of her district not to vote for her because “she is a transgression and an abomination in the eyes of the Lord,who will only fight for LGBT rights”, Roman said.
“Do not vote for her because people in Congress will not respect her, she is a confused person and she will not know which comfort room to use,” Roman also quoted her opponents as saying.
There are still people in the 21 st century who still think this way, she said.
“They link my gender identity with my capacity to serve our country – the question is what has gender or sexual orientation or gender identity expression got to do with one’s capacity to serve our country? I say none, there is nothing connected between these two things,” Roman told the Rotarians.
Roman said she recognizes that she comes from a privileged situation as she has parents who love and support her, and she has had the best kind of education yet she still suffers from discrimination.
So how much more forthose who are less fortunate, she said.
“I cannot turn a blind eye to discrimination in this country so I authored, with several colleagues, the anti-discrimination bill,” Roman said.
Roman said there are efforts led by religious fundamentalists groups to malign the good intentions of this bill, and an all-out effort by a few senators to kill the bill.
The bill aims to protect the LGBT community from discrimination in the workplace, schools, and in the giving of basic government services, she said.
“The bill is not about same sex marriage and gender recognition, it’s about equality, inclusiveness and acceptance that is the right of every Filipino,”Roman said.
She said among about three senators opposing the SOGIE Equality bill, is the son of a famous pastor, in apparent reference to Senator J oel Villanueva.
The bill authored by Senator Risa Hontiveros in the Senate is on second reading and is up for interpolation, Roman said.*CPG
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