CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 13 August) — The Sangguniang Panlungsod here on Monday unanimously passed a landmark ordinance penalizing discrimination against members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, persons with disabilities, COVID-19 patients and medical frontliners.
Councilor Joyleen Mercedes Balaba, author of the “Cagayan de Oro Diversity and Equality Ordinance” said the measure will send a strong message that discrimination has no place in the city.
Balaba said the ordinance would ensure that despite their physical appearance, religious beliefs, and medical history, every resident has the right to live in the city.
“I have seen many friends who were discriminated just because they dressed differently,” she said.
She said drivers of public utility vehicles had refused frontliners from Northern Mindanao Medical Center at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the ordinance imposes the penalties of one-year imprisonment and fines ranging from P1,000 to P10,000 for offenders.
She said a mediation board—Cagayan de Oro Diversity and Equality Commission—to be headed by the city mayor will be set up to entertain complaints from aggrieved parties.
Balaba said the mediation board will ensure that victims would have a legal body to which they could air their complaints.
“The government does not wish to criminalize [violations against the ordinance] but we cannot let the offenders go unpunished,” she said.
Mayor Oscar Moreno is expected to sign the ordinance soon.
Balaba said the ordinance was patterned after a similar measure passed by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Davao City. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)