Atienza says SOGIE bill not among House priorities: ‘There are issues more relevant to the country’s needs’

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Buhay party-list Representative Lito Atienza

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 12) — The SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression) Equality Bill may not see the light in the House of Representatives anytime soon, as the proposal is not among the chamber’s priority legislation, according to a party-list lawmaker and staunch opponent of the measure.

“We have many things that we are tackling that are more important than that issue, so priority wise, medyo nasa likod ngayon ‘yan (it's at the back),” Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza told CNN Philippines’ The Source Thursday.

“As far as the lower House is concern, we are tackling the budget, tax reform laws, we are tackling other issues that are more relevant to the country’s needs today,” Atienza added.

Even an anti-discrimination measure, which President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to certify as urgent, may not even be on House lawmaker’s top agenda.

READ: Palace backtracks: Duterte won't certify SOGIE bill as urgent

“Compared to the economy, compared to the salaries of our people, compared to the prime prices of commodities, I would put it behind. Ang importante ngayon ay ‘yung presyo ng bilihin tumataas, ‘yung problema ng baboy (What is important now are the prices of commodities and the problem among pigs), ‘yung (the) African swine flu is a problem, dengue is a problem, Leptospirosis is a problem,” Atienza said.

Marami tayo problema (We have so many problems). If we debate on something which will really be contentious hindi tayo magkakatulungan,” he added.

Atienza maintained his opposition to the SOGIE bill, arguing that enacting the measure will result in “chaos.”

Such policy, he added, will “lead to confusion, opportunism, and eventually violation of rights.”

“How do you prevent a man dressing up as a woman wearing a wig or maybe a natural long hair but actually lalaki sya (he is a man)? Ngayon ngang hindi nagagwa ‘yan marami nang mga kalokohan sa mga public CR eh, payagan mo pa ‘yan eh magtatago lang ‘yan dun,” he said.

[Translation: There are a lot of misconducts in public comfort rooms now. What more if we have that law? They will just hide there]

The lawmaker said he will support an anti-discrimination proposal that will not specifically highlight the rights of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) community.

"We should not discriminate against members of the LGBT. They should have the freedom and the right to practice whatever they would want to do with their lives," he said.

"Pero 'yung (But the) SOGIE (bill) is a totally different issue because it discriminates against majority of the people, imposing on them what they cannot accept," he added.

Atienza pointed out that the proposed measure will pave the way for same-sex marriage, which he said is “hidden,” but is “initially the agenda of this bill.”

“If it is just plain and simply anti-discrimination I don’t think we will have any objection with that. We don’t want any of the Filipinos be discriminated against but we are against the minority imposing on what they would want. ‘Yun ang mali eh (That's wrong). Same-sex marriage is totally unacceptable,” he said.

The SOGIE Equality Bill, which has been filed in both chambers of Congress, seeks to penalize discrimination on the basis of SOGIE and give equal access to employment, education, and social services to LGBTQ+ community members.