Filipinos for Life, Family, and God, Inc. (Filipinos for Life), an organization whose members promote traditional Filipino family and cultural values and advance the culture of life and the sanctity of marriage and family, expresses grave concern over the bill filed in substitution for HB267 known as An Act Prohibiting Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity (SOGI), Providing Penalties Therefor and for Other Purposes.
1. (Section 2) There is no binding international law obligation relating specifically to sexual orientation or gender identity, or as to that designated as LGBT (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights.
Certainly no written international instrument that expressly mentions sexual orientation or gender identity rights constituting a binding international obligation have been entered into at the international level.
In fact, almost 100 members states of the United Nations reject or do not support what are presented as LGBT rights, and 78 states have statutes criminalizing homosexual relations.1
2. Identity of those intended to be protected by this bill cannot firmly be established since the bill relies only on the perceived claims of the complainant.
(Sections 3b and 3c) Sexual orientation and gender identity are highly subjective. There is no way for one to determine definitively and objectively the gender identity or sexual orientation of a person before him (and in fact, such determination without the person’s approval is prohibited under section 4h of this bill). And unlike race, these are not permanent, with numerous cases of individuals who have changed their orientation and/or identity, making sexual orientation something not intrinsic to a person’s identity.
Longitudinal studies of adolescents suggest that sexual orientation may be quite fluid over the life course for some people, with one study estimating that as many as 80% of male adolescents who report same-sex attractions no longer do so as adults.
The hypothesis that gender identity is an innate, fixed property of human beings that is independent of biological sex—that a person might be a man trapped in a woman’s body or a woman trapped in a man’s body͟—is not supported by scientific evidence. 2
This is significant because in order for this draft penal law to be effective it must be able to: a) identify properly those covered by the protections it offers; and b) capable of being implemented by the police or judicial system in terms of evidence.
(Section 4h) Courts hearing a case involving discrimination could not compel the determination or verification via medical or psychological examination of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, even though relevant to a case being tried, and will simply have to accept the word of the party involved. The same would be true of medical establishments that could be forbidden from treating a patient.
3. Section 4, and in fact, the entire bill, does not allow for any situations where defining of a specific sex is appropriate, thus government will be targeting and infringing on:
a. (4a, c, & d) Religious institutions, schools, and organizations whose precepts do not condone LGBT practices, may be forced to hire practicing LGBT applicants and allow the establishment of LGBT organizations within their institutions, and will be prohibited from imposing sanctions on employees or members for overtly practicing homosexual/bisexual acts, thus infringing on the freedom of religion of the members of these religious institutions/organizations
b. (4b) Single-sex education (girls/boys schools) will now be forced to accept opposite-sex students who identify as the gender of the school’s population. It distorts and puts at a disadvantage schools for instance sports activities when certain athletes that fall under the female category will be forced to allow female-identifying men to compete in the category.
c. Groups and organizations, such as the Freemasons, Boy Scouts are denied the right to decline opposite-sex applicants who identify as the gender of the organization resulting in a violation of their instituted charter.
d. Various religious institutions and denominations will be indiscriminately targeted. It fails to protect the conscience rights of individual Christians, Jews, Muslims and others. Profit-making corporations may not qualify for the exemption.Christian bookstores, religious publishing houses, and radio stations could all be forced to compromise their faith-based principles.
4. Section (4f) could be used to open the doorway to same-sex marriage by forbidding discrimination in the issuance of licenses, including, as the proponents of the bill have stated, marriage licenses. Forbidding the issuance of a license for a same-sex marriage (which is not marriage at all) would therefore be illegal under this law, superseding Title I, Chapter 1, Article 2 (1) of the Family Code of the Philippines which states that parties contracting marriage must be a male and female.
5. Section (4g) Allowing female-identifying males in female facilities and housing put to risk the protection of women’s privacy and safety. Female dormitories in campuses or those offering rental housing will be placing women and young girls in circumstances where their privacy and safety is compromised. They will be at risk of bodily exposure to members of the opposite sex which is not only demeaning, humiliating and denies also individuals’personal dignity.
6. (Section 7) Provides special police protection and treatment to those identifying as LGBT, without providing any justification, to the detriment of other citizens who need police assistance. Furthermore, this could be open to abuse, if LGBT individuals were to use this special access to the police to prejudice investigations in which they were involved in a dispute.
7. Government directly imposing mandates conflicts on parental authority.
These laws put parental rights—including the right to educate children and raise them according to our faith and values—are (sic) at risk. 3
Special rights based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression jeopardizes parents rights to direct their children’s education and safeguard their children’s innocence.
Filipinos who believe in God’s design for sexuality and that marriage is the union of a husband and wife should not be penalized for expressing those beliefs at school. While sexual attractions may be involuntary, neither homosexual conduct nor transgender behavior meets any of the other criteria. Skin complexion, ethnicity, and gender cannot be changed (so-called transgender surgery is superficial; it does not change the genetic and thus defining characteristics of the persons gender).4 Accordingly the American College of Pediatricians urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the oppositesex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.5
8. Adverse effects on the business sector (corporations/SMEs/professionals)
It increases government interference in the free market.
They would substitute the judgment of government officials for that of private businesses and organizations regarding what qualities or characteristics are most relevant to a particular job, and regarding how to operate their businesses.
It forces juridical persons to violate their freedom to uphold moral and religious convictions
These include those which provide products, services, or catering for weddings, or groups and businesses providing dating services. They could be forced under employment provisions of such laws to hire homosexuals, and under the public accommodations provisions they could be forced to participate in the celebration of same-sex weddings, even though homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage are expressly contrary to their religious convictions.
Employers are forced to provide special preferential treatment to avoid lawsuits arising from this law.
They invite disgruntled employees to sue for discrimination over a characteristic (in the case of sexual orientation) which is not even visible and of which the employer may have been unaware. In the case of public employers, such laws at the local and state level have led to large settlements being paid at taxpayers’ expense. Disgruntled customers have sued businesses in the wedding industry under such laws for declining to participate in same-sex weddings (even when the business made clear that they would serve individual homosexual customers in other ways that would not involve celebration of their homosexual partnership).
Prepare the way for reverse discrimination.
The more open homosexuals and transgendered people become, the more people who hold traditional values will be forced to conceal their views–or face punishment for expressing them. This can happen even if the employee’s views are expressed outside of work, and when no reference is made to sexual orientation or gender identity.6
9.We have presently enough labor and civil laws on human rights to protect the citizens of whatever gender making additional ones such as this draft bill irrelevant.
The Draft Law also needs further study on the probable effect it will have on other laws. Judging by the usual listing that LGBT advocates have regarding the rights they are pushing for, such will involve laws relating to employment, military service, adoption, marriage, student activities (such as attending school dances with same-sex dates and dressed in gender nonconforming ways if they choose), parenting, schools, and government identity documents.7
In which event, the implications and possible conflicts such will have vis-à-vis the constitutional protections relating to religion, free expression, academic freedom, and contract will need to be examined and address, along with its relationship to family (including marriage, adoption, succession), labor, education, tax and social services, military, and health laws, amongst others. The affected stakeholders need to have a say and be consulted because, as pointed above, the possible unintended effect is discrimination in order to ostensibly rid of discrimination.
10.The Philippines is already widely considered to be very tolerant of LGBT individuals8, making this bill largely unnecessary.
Presently, consumers already patronize services members of the LGBT community; enjoy the recognition in various fields and hold various significant positions already. In fact the main author of this bill is the most credible proof that this bill is something Filipino constituents do not need. The bill is extremely subjective and open to abuse resulting in the difficulty of reliable enforcement. It has measures which risks the safety and privacy rights for women; creates unnecessary bias towards LGBT members in the workplace, educational institutions and the various religious community; and will instead justify a widespread feeling of antagonism and resentment towards the LGBT community because of the intolerant measures proposed.
For these reasons, Filipinos for Life strenuously objects to this bill, which serves no purpose but to advance the LGBT agenda, and urges your kind office to reject this bill in the House.
1 Jemy Gatdula, My House testimony on the SOGI anti-discrimination bill.Jemy Gatdula blog, 10 February 2015 (http://jemygatdula.blogspot.com/2015/02/my-house-testimony-on-sogi-anti.html?m=1 : accessed 15 Sept 2016).
2 Executive Summary Sexuality and Gender 2016, http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/executive-summary-sexuality-and-gender Accessed 04 Oct 2016
3 Responding to SOGI Laws—Tone and Truth (http://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/sexuality/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-laws-jeopardizing-freedom-and-rights/responding-to-sogi-laws-tone-and-truth)
4. Responding to “SOGI” Laws—Tone and Truth (http://www.focusonthefamily.com/socialissues/sexuality/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-laws-jeopardizing-freedom-and-rights/responding-to-sogi-laws-tone-and-truth)
5. Gender Ideology Harms Children (http://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/gender-ideology-harms-children)
6. Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Laws: A Threat to Free Markets and Freedom of Conscience and Religion (http://www.frc.org/issuebrief/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-sogi-laws-a-threat-to-free-markets-and-freedom-of-conscience-and-religion)
7. American Civil Liberties Union; retrieved 8 February 2015, https://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights
8. Philip C. Tubeza, “PH ranks among most gay-friendly in the world,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 8, 2013 (http://globalnation.inquirer.net/76977/ph-ranks-among-most-gay-friendly-in-the-world/ : accessed 15 Sept 2016)