DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 December) — A party-list lauded Friday the city council for passing Wednesday an ordinance that protects lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs) from discrimination, and urged the other local governments to do the same.
Pidot Villocino, fourth nominee of Ladlad Party-list said the ordinance is an affirmative action of the city government, especially the 16th city council, in understanding fairness, diversity and
Enacted was “an ordinance declaring unlawful, acts and conduct of discrimination based on sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, descent, national or ethnic origin and religious
affiliation or beliefs and penalizing the same.”
The law defines discrimination as “any act or conduct, which withholds, excludes, restricts, curtails, demeans human dignity or otherwise impairs the recognition, enjoyment and exercise of human rights and basic freedoms in the political, economic, labor, social, cultural, educational, or any other field of public life.”
“Davao City has always been diverse, but it has further expressed its diversity with the anti-discrimination ordinance,” Villocino said, citing that Ladlad’s platform includes pushing for a law on non-discrimination against LGBTs.
He said the ordinance is a step towards equality among the people in the city, adding that a part to be ironed out along with its implementation is a “deeper” understanding on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Gender identity, as defined in the ordinance, refers to “a person having the emotional and psychological characteristics of the opposite sex as shown by, among others, his or her behavior and sexual attraction to members of his or her own sex, or to both sexes, whether he or she be a gay, lesbian, transsexual or bisexual.”
Sexual orientation “refers to the emotional or sexual attraction or inclination of a person towards persons of his or her own sex, or both masculine and feminine sexes.”
The ordinance is based on the provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, as well as the generally accepted principles of international law such as the 1981 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination based on Religion or Belief.
The 1993 United Nations General Assembly Resolution on Elimination of All Forms of Religious Intolerance and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also guided the ordinance.
Lawyer Carlos Isagani Zarate, second nominee of Bayan Muna partylist, said with the new ordinance, the previously discriminated or disadvantaged persons will now be assured of protection under the law.
“As a social legislation, the anti-discrimination law is actually a necessary reminder to the sometimes arrogant majority that even those “minoritized” by circumstances have the same rights to enjoy blessings of a democratic society,” he added.
Villocino said society in general is still “homophobic” although members of the LGBT community in the city have not experienced intense bullying and other forms of discrimination.
He cited an ongoing case of a male transgender who works as a hairdresser in a salon in Victoria Plaza here against a female fiscal for bullying that led to physical abuse in a women’s toilet in the
mall three or four years ago.
Wearing clothes for women, the complainant was a regular user of a female toilet in the mall when he met the woman, who questioned his act in an “embarrassing and discriminating” way, Villocino said.
He said the woman assaulted the complainant as the latter asserted that he has been doing it and that he is “a woman trapped in a man’s body.”
Villocino said he hopes nothing like it would happen again now that the city has an anti-discrimination ordinance.
The ordinance cited that discrimination is committed, among other forms, by “subjecting either verbal or written word or publication, to ridicule or insult or attributing despicable behavior and habits or associating with violence and criminal activities, any person or group of persons by reason of his ethnic origin, religious affiliation or belief, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race or color of the skin.”
Woman and Muslim
Noriah Baraontong, a Maranao woman and government employee, said the ordinance is a good legislative effort and very significant for women like her who face various forms of discrimination, particularly for being a woman and a Muslim.
She told MindaNews she experienced being discriminated in applying for a job before she was employed at the city council.
“I have tried applying in malls as saleslady before but because I am a Muslim, I wasn’t accepted for the job despite my qualifications. So I ended up as a street vendor in Uyanguren Street (known as the China town in this city),” she said.
She added that she also experienced being called “Abu Sayyaf,” a kidnap-for-ransom group mainly based in Basilan.
The ordinance says that discrimination is also committed by “refusing employment to a job applicant or imposing onerous or additional terms or conditions which are not imposed on another similarly situated or circumstanced person, on the basis of ethnic origin, religious
affiliation or belief, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, descent, race or color of the skin.”
Leah Librado-Yap, chair of the city council committee on women, children and family relations, said women will be more empowered with the anti-discrimination ordinance, saying that it strengthens laws that protect them.
She lauded the effort of the city council in totally eliminating all forms of discrimination, calling the ordinance another landmark legislation along with the women development code, women’s health clinic, anti-smoking and anti-fireworks ordinances.
The ordinance carries a penalty of admonition and a fine of P1,000 for the first offense, and up to P5,000 and imprisonment of 15 days for the third offense. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)