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All-encompassing measure vs discrimination pushed

STRESSING that the Constitution provides protection for all and guards against all forms of discrimination, Manila Rep. Bienvenido “Benny” Abante Jr. has pushed for the passage of an “all-encompassing” anti-discrimination measure in lieu of the proposed Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity or Expression (SOGIE) equality bill now pending in the House of Representatives.

Abante, former House Minority Leader, emphasized that he finds “all forms of discrimination reprehensible, and believes that it is the responsibility of Congress to address this social ill by punishing those who discriminate against Filipino citizens.”

Abante pointed out, however, “that discrimination has different forms, facets, and faces.”

“There can also be other bases for discrimination––and that is what we hope to address with House Bill No. 5969 or the Anti Discrimination Act of 2020.”

According to the him, the measure, authored by Abante together with his former colleagues in the Minority bloc, “is protected under this measure… lahat ‘yan kasama d’yan.”

Under the Anti Discrimination Act of 2020, sex and gender orientation would not be the only prohibited basis for discrimination, he said.

Abante said it would also include ethnicity and race, religious beliefs, civil status, disability, educational attainment, and HIV status.

The following would be considered prohibited discriminatory acts under the Abante measure:

• Inflicting stigma

• Denial of political, civil, and cultural rights

• Denial of right to education

• Denial of right to work

• Denial of access to good and services

• Denial of right to organize

• Inflicting harm on health and well-being

• Engaging in profiling

• Abuses by State and Non State actors

• Detention and confinement

• Other analogous circumstances

While the bill punishes those who engage in discriminatory acts with fines from 100,000 to 250,000 pesos or imprisonment ranging from two to 12 years, the lawmaker said he was open to amendments to modify the penalties and instead punish offenders with community service and rehabilitation as “they ought to change their frame of mind and not discriminate against anyone, including members of the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Abante said he “will not in any way be discriminatory against any kind of person whatever their lifestyle might be.”

“Let us live and let live… and let the Lord be the one to judge people,” said Abante.