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Bataan approves anti-discrimination ordinance

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The province of Bataan now has its own ordinance prohibiting and penalizing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Bataan approved Ordinance No. 16, Series of 2021, or the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, in October 2021. It was recently signed by governor Albert S. Garcia and circulated this month. Provincial board member Jomar L. Gaza authored the said ordinance, which was sponsored by board member Maria Kristine G. dela Fuente.

Bataan First District Representative Geraldine B. Roman lauded the development, saying that the ordinance was unanimously approved.

“I’m so proud of Bataan for many things, but I am even prouder of my province after learning that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Bataan has passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression,” enthused the first Filipino transgender woman to be elected to congress in her 10 January Facebook post.

“Hamon ito sa Kongreso upang ipasa ang SOGIE Equality Bill sa lalong madaling panahon (This is a challenge to Congress to pass the SOGIE Equality Bill as soon as possible),” she added.

PANTAY (Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders), a youth network advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and the passage of the SOGIESC Equality Bill, also celebrated the approval of the ordinance, lauding “our Equality Champs in Bataan—community leaders and sponsors of the measure—for upholding human rights.”

“The provincial government of Bataan joins the growing roster of local government units affirming their commitment to promote gender equality and end discrimination,” they said in their 22 December 2021 Facebook post.

The organization further said: “We strongly encourage other LGUs to take part in this historical movement for equality and pass their respective local anti-discrimination ordinances. At the same time, we firmly reiterate the need for the SOGIE Equality Bill, a national legislation that would protect all Filipinos from SOGIE-based discrimination.”

The SOGIESC Equality Bill, which is also known as the Anti-Discrimination Bill and has undergone several iterations, aims to provide protection for the LGBTQ+ community and it has not been passed for more than two decades now.

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