A Benedictine nun in Manila decried what she described as the use religion to justify the discrimination against the LGBTQI community.
In a congressional hearing on November 4, Sister Mary John Mananzan reminded critics of the proposed sexual orientation and gender identity expression (SOGIE) bill in the Philippine Congress that discrimination is “against what religion is all about.”
The Benedictine nun said “religion should not be used to justify discrimination” and that all Filipinos, regardless of sexual orientation, “have the right to have all the rights that the citizens of all in the country have.”
Sister Mananzan said the LGBTQI community is entitled to enjoy the rights guaranteed in the Constitution.
The proposed measure in Congress aims to prevent economic and public accommodation-related acts of discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.
The bill seeking “gender equality” was first filed in 2000 and passed the third reading in the Lower House of Congress but its passage was stalled in the Senate.
In 2017, another version of the “equality bill” passed in the third and final reading in the House of Representatives but again died in the Senate.
The bill was again refiled in the present Congress.
Sister Mananzan said defending the rights of the LGBTQI community “doesn’t mean that you are justifying everything that they will do.”
The nun said the SOGIE bill only reiterates “that whatever you are, you are a human being and so all the rights that belong to this human being, must be recognized in all, as in all human beings.”
She clarified that defending human rights is not pardoning sinful acts, adding that anyone who “commits crimes and commit sins … [are going] to be condemned.”
“I always say that I believe in the dignity of every person and therefore all of us who are made to the image and likeness of God and everybody, no matter what your sexual orientation, deserves respect because we are made to the image and likeness of God,” she said.
During the hearing, Bataan Representative Geraldine Roman, one of the proponents of the bill, said the SOGIE bill “is not a same-sex marriage bill.”
“It is not a gender recognition bill that will allow us to change our legal markers. It’s a totally different issue. This is not about civil union, this is not about same-sex marriage or civil partnership,” she said.
The proposed measure is considered one of the most contentious bills on gender issues, second to the Reproductive Health Law, filed in the Philippine Congress.