By Alexandria San Juan
The management of Farmers Plaza issued on Wednesday an apology to Gretchen Diez, the transwoman who was discriminated inside the mall after she was barred from entering a women’s comfort room.
However, the management distanced itself to the cleaning crew involved in the incident, saying that she was an “agency worker not organic” to the company.
“We would like to apologize to Ms. Diez for the treatment she has received from a member of the cleaning crew. We also would like to extend the apology not just to the LGBT community but to the public in general for the actions of said crew member,” Farmers Plaza property general manager Morriel Abogado said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We assure the aggrieved party and the public that we are looking into the matter, and will take appropriate action,” Abogado added.
The management also said that they already contacted the agency of the sanitation crew to take action as well.
Abogado explained that the unjust vexation case against Diez was not filed by the management but a personal decision of the janitress.
“None of these actions had been relayed beforehand to the management, nor did we have knowledge of the same as it was happening, for us to do something about the matter,” she clarified.
The Farmers Plaza mall officials also said that the discrimination which happened to Diez was unacceptable, and hopes to meet with her for a dialogue on issues involving the LGBTQ+ community.
The management also tagged the incident as an” isolated case” as the personnel involved was not a direct hire of the company, and does not define its “good relations” with the customers.
The mall’s statement was issued a day after Diez was stopped by a janitress to use the women’s restroom and insisted that she use the men’s comfort room instead.
Diez took a video of the worker when she asked why she was not allowed to enter the ladies’ comfort room despite the existing Gender-Fair ordinance in Quezon City which angered the janitress.
According to Diez, two janitresses dragged her and brought her inside the mall’s security office where she started to record a live Facebook video to seek help from friends and for evidence.
It was seen in the video that some security and maintenance personnel of the mall continued to argue with Diez and prevented her to take a video inside the office.
Diez was held inside the room for hours before she was brought to Quezon City Police Station 7 (PS-7) then to QCPD’s Anti-Cybercrime Division in Camp Karingal which referred them back to PS-7.
At around 11:30 p.m., Tuesday, Diez was freed after the janitress decided to drop the unjust vexation case against her and apologized through a letter.
While Diez accepted the written apology, she said that her camp will continue to file complaints against the mall management for violating the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance.
In 2014, the Quezon City council passed the City Gender-Fair Ordinance that aims to defend members of the LGBT+ community from any form of discrimination.
Under the ordinance, it is unlawful to “ridicule, to commit harassment, disallow the entry from any establishment, promote discrimination and to commit any act that demeans the dignity and self-respect of a person.”
The ordinance mandates imprisonment of not less than two months up to one year for any person held liable, and a fine of P1,000 to P5,000.