MANILA Mayor Isko Moreno signed into law an ordinance aimed at providing full protection for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, queers and intersex (LGBTQI) against all forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, expression (SOGIE) and penalizing violators within the city of Manila.
Moreno was joined by Vice Mayor and Council Presiding Officer Honey Lacuna, Majority Floor Leader Joel Chua and President Pro-Tempore and Acting Presiding Officer Ernesto Isip, Jr. as he signed Ordinance 8695 authored by Councilor Joel Villanueva and called, “Manila LGBTQI Protection Ordinance of 2020”.
The mayor said that under the new law, no LGBTQI will have to suffer from any form of discrimination any longer, stressing that in Manila, ‘we are all equal under the law.’
Moreno added that the ordinance, which protects LGBTQI in the workplace, school and social media, among others, is consistent with the city government’s approach to be ‘inclusive’ in every way possible, as it also frowns at any form of bullying.
The new local law includes in the mandated functions of each barangay the establishment of an LGBTQI Desk which shall receive and attend to complaints, safeguarding the rights and interests of the aggrieved members of said community and documenting any incidents of physical, emotional or psychological abuses directed against LGBTQI.
Within three years from the passage of the ordinance, gender- neutral toilets are a must inside the lavatories or comfort rooms of restaurants, bars, stores, movies houses, shopping malls and other similar business establishments which are open to the general public for the use of members of the LGBTQI community. The provision of such toilets shall be made a condition precedent for the renewal of business permits of these establishments.
In large establishments, where there are several lavatories or comfort rooms in each floor, designation shall be made to a specific floor where gender neutral toilets are located.
Any LGBTQI whose rights against discrimination have been violated may file a complaint with the barangay chairman where the victim lives. If the prohibited acts were committed in workplace, schools, universities and similar establishments, the complaint shall be filed in the barangay where the commission took place.
Violations carry a fine of not less than P 1,000 or imprisonment of six months or both at the discretion of the court for the first offense; imprisonment of from six months and one day to eight months for the second offense and for the third offense, an imprisonment of eight months and one day to one year. Subsequent violations shall be punished by a penalty of one year imprisonment and fine of not less than P5,000.
In addition to the penalties, violators will be required to undergo human rights education by the MGSDC for a period to be determined by the court. In case of corporations, partnerships, associations and other juridical persons, the officers shall be directly liable.
The ordinance also provides for the creation of the Gender Sensitivity and Development Council. (MGSDC) which shall, among others, implement anti-discrimination programs and also integrate and synchronize programs, projects and activities for the LGBTIQ community.
Within 60 days from the effectivity of the ordinance, the MGSDC shall formulate the Implementing Rules and Regulations and guidelines after a thorough consultation with multi-sectoral groups and stakeholders to be composed of experts and representatives from various sectors such as civil society, LGBTQI, non-governmental organizations, LGBTQI organizations and community-based organizations.