'Restrooms are biology-based': Sotto calls for reality check

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 17) – Senate President Vicente Sotto III has called for a reality check in setting up gender-neutral restrooms in establishments, arguing toilets are "biology-based".

Sotto's reaction stemmed from the incident involving a transgender woman, Gretchen Diez, who was arrested after insisting she has the right to use the women's toilet in a Quezon City mall early this week. Diez's viral confrontation video with the Farmers Plaza's cleaning crew, revived calls for the passage of the Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill at the Senate.

"Lesbians cannot stand in a male only urinals. Konting reality check naman‬," Sotto said, when asked about his stand on the issue.

Sotto said that while he is "all for respecting rights," one should also consider women's supposed discomfort in sharing public restrooms with trans women.

The lawmaker expressed reservations over the idea to put up a third toilet for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, saying "Maybe, but [it is] difficult to do everywhere."

Sotto had also hit 'gays' for seeming to have the only ones with an issue as far as restrooms are concerned, as he pointed out he has not heard of lesbians complain about not being able to use the male comfort room.

He added that this matter, Diez’ could raise to another discrimination issue.

"The next problem will be the women who will complain if no 3rd CRs are available. They are starting to complain now," he said.

On Friday, Bataan 1st District Rep. Geraldine Roman stressed that the SOGIE bill crafted to stop discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression is needed to protect the LGBTQ+ sector. Roman is the first transgender legislator in the country.

These sectors are "traditionally marginalized in our society,” Roman said.

The SOGIE Bill, which was backed by Malacañang, has hit several roadblocks at the Senate due to lack of support from some senators.

READ: Anti-discrimination bill fails to hurdle Congress

An LGBTQ+ group seemed to have lost hope that the Senate will pass the proposed anti-discrimination act.

"It's no longer feasible, it's no longer effective to be knocking at the doors of Congress. We have to shift our strategy," said Dindi Tan, secretary general of LGBT Pilipinas, in an interview on CNN Philippines' On The Record on Thursday.

RELATED: LGBTQ+ rights group vies for local ordinances against discrimination