near & queer to your heart

Manila, 7 NovemberI have written about this before.

It’s been such a week, and I haven’t been able to catch up properly with the renewed round of LGBTQ hate on social media due to the continuation of deliberations on the Anti-Discrimination Bill at the House of Representatives. (READ: Fiery debate erupts anew over Sogie bill via Inquirer.net)

Our friends from Metro Manila Pride have posted this very informative primer on the SOGIE Equality Bill on Instagram and Facebook.

A post shared by @mmprideorg
November 6, 2020

Two years ago, a friend shared with me the first Philippine Corporate SOGIE Diversity and Inclusiveness Index. A total of 100 companies participated in this inaugural CSDI Index, which employed a mix of telephone interviews and self-administered online questionnaires, and was conducted from July to September 2018. Participants were a mix of Philippine-based and foreign-headquartered companies who were engaged in BPO/BPS, tech, food and beverage, energy, and financial services industries, to name a few.

The full write-up is here. I’d like to highlight a couple of findings:

  • 17 percent: Percentage of respondents who said YES, their company’s employment opportunity policy or employee handbook/manual contained anti-discrimination policies that include the terms ‘sexual orientation’, ‘gender identity’, and/or ‘gender expression’. All of them are foreign-headquartered organizations and are from the BPO/BPS industry. 

  • 57 percent: Percentage of respondents who said NOPE. Even if you turned their employee handbooks inside out, you would not find the terms ‘sexual orientation’, ‘gender identity’, and/or ‘gender expression’ in their anti-discrimination policy. At all.

Here are reasons behind that:

  1. Needs of LGBTQIAP+ employees are not urgent and not prioritized because they comprise only a small minority of companies’ workforce

  2. Companies fear that having anti-discrimination policies and inclusive benefits may cause them to lose market share and customers, considering that the Philippines is a “conservative country”

  3. Heteronormative corporate culture

  4. As long as government and labor regulations do not include SOGIE policies, companies will not be inclined to change their policies.

Isa pa, with feelings:

As long as government and labor regulations do not include SOGIE policies, companies will not be inclined to change their policies.

This is why it is important to pass the SOGIE Equality / Anti-Discrimination Bill. I have seen people populate the #NotoSOGIEBill hashtag with misinformed takes, which include, among others, making a Super Special Elite Class out of members of the LGBTQ community.

One of the more harmful takes was a defense of Bro Eddie Villanueva’s proposal for LGBT rehab (which is rich, for a guy whose party-list is literally named CIBAC).

It’s dangerous because it masquerades itself as benign, even generous. It starts with, “Human rights are for everybody” and adds, “Hindi tayo magkalaban.” But if you look at it more closely, it is so bigoted it may very well just have spat on me anyway. It calls extending rights to the LGBTQ persons “a privilege” and even goes as far as to equate it to “abuse of freedom”, and worse, a “disease.”

Does she have no idea how many queer children kill themselves over this lie, that they are diseased? That this is an illness they have to be rid of, instead of a wonderful gift? I don’t need rehab, I need equal protection under law—for myself, my partner, my community. We needed it 20 years ago, when the bill was first filed in Congress.

‘Dalawang ulam’

My best friend J asked me if I were in favor of civil unions for same-sex partners, following the Pope’s groundbreaking announcement that he supports same-sex civil unions. I thought it was a good idea; an opportunity for protection for same-sex partners under law.

She mentioned that even then, it still reeks of ‘second-class treatment’—because it still isn’t ‘marriage.’

“Parang—kaming mga straight, may access kami sa dalawang ulam. Kayo, isa lang. Ang mga straights pwede rin sa civil union.” (Of course, if you know me, the best way to explain anything to me is by way of a food-related metaphor lol)

She also pointed out that I may be managing my expectations—gunning for that sole ulam available, because it was still better than nothing.

I understand that this is the current thrust of LGBTQ community advocates in Congress—the SOGIE Bill is not a same-sex union bill, nor is it a gender change bill. The push is for anti-discrimination laws because let’s face it, there are members of the LGBTQ community who will not benefit from a same-sex union bill because they are un-partnered. An Anti-Discrimination Bill, on the other hand, will benefit us all. Yeah, even the straights. Imagine that.

Anyway. I also understand how Catholics and Christians have this long-held belief about ‘marriage’ being between a man and a woman, etc etc. I think that’s a lost cause.

I don’t care how you call it—even God has different names. As long as the spirit is the same, I will welcome it.

Anyway, this has gotten long! Thank you for reading through that. I tried to not be so angry haha. I hope I succeeded.

I leave you with my favorite meme for this week:

Thank you for making it this far. Happy weekend!

XO,

K