Being Right

The problem with all the discussions surrounding the sexual orientation and gender identity legislative proposals are many. But it’s on the fundamental grounds that the flaws are truly significant.

One sees this in the opening portion, for example, of Senate Bill Nos. 159 and 689, defining the following terms:

“Gender Expression: refers to the outward manifestations of the cultural traits that enable a person to identify as male or female according to patterns that, at a particular moment in history, a given society defines as gender appropriate.”

“Gender Identity: refers to the personal sense of identity as characterized, among others, by manner of clothing, inclinations, and behavior in relation to masculine or feminine conventions. A person may have a male or female identity with the physiological characteristics of the opposite sex.”

The definitions are important because on them, along with the definition of “sexual orientation”, are practically built the entire structure of alleged “rights” that SBs 159/689 (or the “Anti-Discrimination” bill) are supposed to protect.

But one searches in vain for any factual or scientific data to back up the definitions. Or serve as sufficient rationale why additional legislation is even needed at all.

Instead, SBs 159/689 misleadingly refer to international law when no international law recognizes SOGIE “rights.”

Then SBs 159/689 rely on a five-year-old Pew survey finding “73% of adult Filipinos agree that homosexuality should be accepted by society.” But SB 689 fails to mention that “nearly two-thirds (65%) of Filipinos surveyed said homosexuality was immoral” (Thomson Reuters, 2014).

This proves that Filipinos, while correctly believing homosexuality should be tolerated, equally correctly don’t agree with it.

In the end, the SOGIE bills (House Bills 134 and 136 and Senate Bills 159 and 689) substantially base their “logic” on two UN studies without any objective factual data.

Pathetically, SOGIE’s foundations are thus revealed to be merely self-referential (e.g., Pew surveys), anecdotal, biased, or outrightly misleading.

Practically no effort was made to gather information from the relevant labor, educational, judicial, or police agencies.

And yet Filipinos are expected to acquiesce to the wholesale reengineering of Philippine society on this flimsiest of grounds?

Its congressional backers base their claim on gender being non-binary, like “a rainbow.” If true, can they at least be identified and enumerated?

How can the proposed laws protect something if even their authors don’t know what they are?

This is no way to make legislation.

The bills’ authors can’t identify the said genders because their proposed law is based on fantasy not fact.

The gender identities and expression aren’t based on biology. Nothing remotely scientific supports the claim of categorizing a gazillion genders mutable through time. Not our history or culture. Not race, which is biological as well.

What then? The only thing such “genders” are based on are the purely emotional and subjective belief of whoever claims it.

Yes, at most that’s all what SOGIE is: feelings, idea, a belief.

But as beliefs, such are already constitutionally and legislatively protected. So what reason could these additional legislation, these SOGIE bills, have?

Furthermore, not only are these proposed SOGIE laws completely unnecessary, they are also constitutionally infirm.

One may have the constitutional right to believe something and express that belief but legislation cannot be made to force you to agree to that belief or its expression. Others are also entitled to such innate constitutional rights.

What is provided for under the Constitution is the guarantee to be left alone to believe and speak as one wants, so long as such does not violate others’ rights.

To ask for more rights over and above that of others to protect your own belief, ideas, and expression violates the neutrality that government is constitutionally required to do. It violates individual property rights as well.

You are in effect asking for a privilege not available to other beliefs, speech, or expression.

It may be argued that educational institutions, religion, and even media are given dispensation but note this is mostly only as to taxes. And such is neutrally available to all beliefs, religions, or expression. Nothing is taken away from, confiscated, forced, or makes a specific belief or thought superior to or treated with privilege over and above other beliefs, expression, or religion.

Incidentally, public toilets have been long segregated based on privacy, modesty, and safety. And definitely biology. One sees this in the design difference between the toilets for men and women. Beliefs cannot be a reasonable basis to segregate toilets. Certainly not such that would justify putting one specific belief over all others.

The SOGIE bills should be defeated for their utter non-conformity not only with our Constitution but also sheer common sense.

And conflict with many other laws, particularly those protecting women, children, labor/business/property, schools, the military, as well as penal and civil relations.

And the SOGIE bills become even more repugnant when read alongside the ill-advised Safe Spaces Act.

So again: No to SOGIE.

And again: There are no SOGIE rights, just human rights.


Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.

Twitter @jemygatdula