By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
The proposed law prohibiting discrimination against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community may set a “dangerous” precedent to charging individuals or groups who are standing for their religious beliefs, Senator Joel Villanueva said.
Villanueva, an evangelist, said this as he maintained his opposition on the proposed Anti-Discrimination Act which seeks to penalize discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression (SOGIE). It was filed by Sen. Riza Hontiveros.
In a radio interview Saturday, the senator warned anew that the bill would give “special rights” to members of the LGBT community at the expense of religious sectors.
“We are opposing this measure because I think it provides special rights to one sector of society at the expense of another sector,” Villanueva said in an interview over DWIZ.
For example, he said Christian leaders or pastors, who are only “professing their religious belief” that homosexual relationship is a “great sin” to God, may be charged criminally under the SOGIE bill should the LGBTQ community be offended by their preachings.
Businessmen who are firm in their Christian faith are also vulnerable to cases if they refuse to offer their services to LGBT customers.
Villanueva even recalled a famous case in the United States where a conservative baker was charged in 2012 for declining to make a cake for a gay couple as it violates his religious belief.
The senator added that Christian and Catholic schools, especially exclusive schools, may be sanctioned for maintaining their firm stance on gender.
“We give a very dangerous precedent especially to Christian country like ours,” Villanueva said.
He, on the other hand, clarified: “Gusto ko lang i-reiterate na mahal na mahal natin yung LGBT community. Hindi po tayo papayag na sila ay dini-discriminte. Hindi tayo papayag na hindi sila tatanggapin sa trabaho only because they are part of the LGBT community.”
“Ang sinasabi po natin dito palakasin natin yung batas na anti discrimination but not at the expense of other sectors especially the Christian community,” he added.
Hontiveros’ Senate Bill No. 1271 stipulates that discriminatory practices against LGBTQ include: the promotion and encouragement of stigma on the basis of SOGIE in the media and educational institutions; the need for disclosing sexual orientation in the criteria for hiring and other human resource actions in the workplace; the non-admission or expulsion from any education or training institution on the basis of SOGIE; the denial of access to health services and public establishments and facilities.
The bill proposes penalties ranging from P100,000 to P500,000, and imprisonment from one year to 12 years, for those who will be convicted of discrimination.
“Ang panukalang batas na ito ay diskriminasyon naman laban sa ibang grupo o sector ng society. Hindi naman po pwede na yung isang panukalang batas at nagke-cater, nagbibigay favor, at nagbibigay ng extra right sa isang sector ng lipunan. Hindi naman po tama iyon,” he said.
The SOGIE bill, however, faces rough-sailing in the Senate since a number of senators still believe that the fundamental unit of society —the family —must be preserved. There had been concerns in the Upper Chamber that it would pave the way for the legalization of saem-sex marriage in the country.
A coalition of Christian groups, led by VIllanueva’s father Bro. Eddie Villanueva, staged a rally in the Senate on Wednesday to oppose the passage of the SOGIE bill.