The Philippines, a nation dubbed as one of the most gay-friendly nations in the world, has yet to enact a law protecting the LGBTQ community. For 17 years, the bill that criminalizes discrimination against sexual orientation or gender identity has been constantly re-filed and rejected in the Philippine congress.
Geraldine Roman, the country’s first transgender lawmaker, felt that it’s about time something gets done about it.
Addressing fellow lawmakers at the Philippines’ House of Representative, Roman, the representative of Bataan province, delivered a speech urging fellow members of congress to pass the anti-discrimination bill that has stalled in legislative limbo for almost two decades. Her an emotional plea brought the entire plenary to a standing ovation, according to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
She expressed the need to put a stop on the harassment most gays and lesbians face at work and school. She also sought fair treatment for the LGBTQ community to have equal access to basic services and employment.
“My dear brother and sisters in the LGBT community, I want you to know that I am but one voice among many in this august chamber that says it is time: It is the time to pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. And the time is now!” Roman said.
Standing ovation greets first privilege speech of Rep. Geraldine Roman, first transgender woman legislator in Phils pic.twitter.com/tgarvukJwr
— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) September 19, 2016
During her speech, Roman shared how her “macho politician” father, the late former Bataan congressman Antonino Roman, accepted her as transgender. It was her father’s dream, she said, for her to fight for the rights of her community in congress.
“Daddy, you and I need not beg my colleagues for respect. I am glad and proud that the members of the 17th Congress have not only welcomed me with open arms. They have dealt with me as a full-fledged colleague, as an equal.” the emotional Roman said.
She also noted that in the Philippines, only a total of 164 cases of hate crimes against members of the LGBTQ community have so far been recorded since 1995 because there is no officer in the Department of Justice, Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation who would document and monitor hate crimes.
“Hopefully as you have fully accepted me, you would also accept equality among all Filipinos, LGBTQ or not,” she said.
Fines of up to 500,000 Philippine pesos ($10,450) and jail time up to six years may be imposed for those found guilty were included in the proposed bill.
Her full speech can be viewed on the lawmaker’s YouTube page which begins at about 36 minutes in the full video.