By Mario Casayuran
Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros expressed confidence Tuesday that the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality bill would be passed in the coming 18th Congress that begins July 22.
Hontiveros issued the statement as the bill was certain not to be acted upon by Congress as it closed the 17th Congress late Tuesday and adjourns sine die starting Wednesday.
She, however, said the bill had gained new allies and wider acceptance among policy makers and the public.
The bill seeks to penalize discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or SOGIE.
“While the proposed measure will not pass in this Congress, it has gained new allies and champions. The concept has also become more mainstream. The tide is definitely turning. I am confident that when we refile the measure in the 18th Congress, it will finally pass,” Hontiveros said.
It was reported that although the bill was approved by the House of Representatives in 2017, the Senate’s counterpart bill saw delays during the period of interpellation, even amid public support.
“The delay in the Senate is lamentable,” Hontiveros said.
Hontiveros authored and sponsored the said bill.
“It’s been close to three years. In my memory, no other bill has been kept at bay and been under the period of interpellations for this long. It was one of the first bills sponsored in 2016,” the Senator added.
“The protracted interpellations in the Senate helped in popularizing the SOGIE concept. In fact, workplaces and local governments are starting to establish their respective anti-discrimination policies. This is real progress,” she said.
Hontiveros also praised the advocates for “a campaign that has gathered massive support from the public and across sectors.”
Celebrities like Anne Curtis, Vice Ganda, and Heart Evangelista have all come out in support of the bill.
Organizations, including Catholic student councils, have also called on the Senate to act on its passage.
“We need to sustain the momentum. From the Stonewall riots 50 years ago to the recent victories of LGBT advocates in Nepal, Israel, and Taiwan, there is a rainbow wave gathering momentum. It’s only a matter of time before the SOGIE Equality bill becomes a law. This is a bill whose time has come,” she added.