Duterte meets transgender Gretchen Diez

MANILA President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night met Gretchen Diez, a transgender who figured in the news after being barred from entering a female restroom.

During their meeting in MalacaAang, Duterte vowed to work with Congress to push for the passage of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill that would protect the rights of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community against discrimination.

Senator Christopher Bong Go, who organized the meeting, said the President and Diez were also joined by other LGBTQ advocates including 1st District of Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman.

Go, who has been vocal about his support for the SOGIE bill, said discussed during the meeting was the possibility of creating a commission for LGBTQ pending the enactment of a SOGIE law.

On the other hand, he said government plans to coordinate with LGBTQ groups to create a national LGBTQ convention where advocates from different regions will be represented to raise their concerns and come up with policy proposals to promote and protect their welfare.

The LGBTQ advocates expressed their gratitude after the meeting and are looking forward to the passage of a law that will protect them from discrimination before the President's term ends, Go said in a statement.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said one of the topics discussed in Duterte's meeting with Diez was the proposed establishment of separate public restrooms for the LGBT community.

He's also inclined doon sa (on the) third restroom for them. Mayroon silang sarili (so that they would have their own), Panelo said in a Palace briefing on Tuesday.

According to him, Duterte wanted to make sure the public would feel comfortable when relieving themselves.

O kaya naman 'di common na sa lahat, pareho ng mga nandiyan sa mga coffee shops 'di ba. Puro common ang CR, walang discrimination you can come in and out, mag-aantay ka lang (It can be accomplished, a common restroom for all just like in coffee shops, where there's no discrimination you can come in and out. You just have to wait for your turn), Panelo said.

He explained that so long as the restrooms have cubicles, each person could have privacy.

Meanwhile, Panelo said Chayra Ganal, the janitress who barred Diez from using the female restroom, should not lose her job.

Nag-apologize na naman iyong janitress 'di ba? Apparently iyong kanyang stand, hindi niya alam kasi na may ordinansa (But the janitress already apologized, right? Apparently, she didn't know about the ordinance). That's why, sabi niya (she said), she is willing to be educated on that. So kung alam niya siguro (if she knew), she would have not done it, he added.

Last week, Panelo said the act of barring Diez from entering a female restroom is a violation of the city's Gender-Fair Ordinance that protects members of the LGBT community from discrimination.

Under the local measure, it is unlawful to ridicule, to commit harassment, disallow the entry from any establishment, promote discrimination and to commit any act that demeans the dignity and self-respect of a person.

The SOGIE bill, which was refiled by Senator Risa Hontiveros in the 18th Congress, seeks to penalize discrimination against the LGBT community by a fine of PHP100,000 to PHP500,000 or imprisonment of six to 12 years subject to the discretion of the court. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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