President Rodrigo Duterte hosted a thanksgiving party for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community at Malacañan Palace.
Photos from Malacañang showed the President administering the oath of office of national officers of LGBT Pilipinas Inc. and exchanging pleasantries with its members at Palace’s Heroes Hall.
LGBT Pilipinas, chaired by Faustino “Bubsie” Sabarez III, is a non-government organization that is among the prime movers of the proposed Anti-Discrimination Act and the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) bill, according to the group’s Facebook page.
Also seen during the thanksgiving party was Gretchen Diez, a transgender woman who gained unexpected prominence after being barred from entering a women’s comfort room in a mall in Cubao in August this year.
The restroom incident involving Diez has prompted renewed call for the passage of SOGIE bill in the 18th Congress.
SOGIE measure, which aims to protect the rights of individuals against discrimination, was approved by the House of Representatives in 2017, but its version in the Senate only reached the period of interpellations.
Duterte on Sept. 10 promised to certify SOGIE bill as urgent to make LGBT community “happy.”
A day later, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo clarified that the Chief Executive was referring to the anti-discrimination bill that will serve as “enlarged version of whatever bill you have in mind,” including the proposed SOGIE law.
The President shared with members of LGBT Pilipinas that he recently signed an executive order (EO) on the creation of an Inter-Agency Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who was also present at the thanksgiving party, said.
“Ibinahagi ng Pangulo na pinirmahan na niya kamakailan ang executive order na nagtatatag ng Inter-Agency Committee on Diversity and Inclusion (The President informed them that he recently signed an EO establishing the Inter-Agency Committee on Diversity and Inclusion),” Go said in a Facebook post.
“Para kay Tatay Digong at Kuya Bong, lahat ng Pilipino, ano man ang kasarian, ay may mga karapatang dapat kilalanin ng lipunan (For President Duterte and Senator Bong, all Filipinos, whatever their gender is, have rights that must be recognized by the society),” he added.
The Presidential Communications Operations Office, in another post on Facebook, said Sephy Francisco, a Filipino transgender woman who joined “X-Factor United Kingdom” and appeared in South Korea’s “I Can See Your Voice,” performed a song number during the thanksgiving party hosted by Duterte.
In March 2017, the President said members of the LGBT community can do everything that makes them “happy and fulfilled” but should ensure that they do not violate the law. (PNA)