MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang declared support for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community after a transgender woman's ordeal in a mall restroom sparked calls for the passage of an anti-discrimination bill.
But the Palace was vague on whether it would certify as urgent the sexual orientation and gender identity and expression (SOGIE) bill filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros and Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman in Congress.
"Our position is, we have to respect LGBT and another thing, there is an ordinance to respect them so what was done to the transgender [woman] was a violation," said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Thursday, August 15, during a Palace news briefing.
Asked if Duterte would push for the SOGIE bill's passage, Panelo could only say for certain that he remembers the President expressing support for LGBTQ+ persons in the past.
Pressed for a clearer Palace stance, Panelo said he would ask the President to be sure.
The spokesman emphasized Malacañang's general support for the LGBTQ+ community.
"Dapat talaga maprotect 'yung 3rd gender (The 3rd gender must really be protected). As far as we're concerned, we have to protect the rights of all people," said Panelo.
Duterte, however, has previously been criticized for using words like bakla or bayot (gay) as insults.
In a rant about his critic Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, the President implied that being gay is a disease.
In the 2016 campaign period, he used bayot to imply weakness in rival candidates.
But in April, Duterte signed the Bawal Bastos law which penalizes homophobic and transphobic slurs. (READ: Bawal Bastos law emboldens Filipinos to condemn Duterte sexism – Hontiveros) – Rappler.com