Last February the US House of Representatives passed the Equality Bill. If it gets through the Senate, it will simply be one of the most devastating laws ever passed by any country in history.
Ostensibly, the Bill seeks to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.” Yet, behind that seemingly harmless preamble is disguised a ruthless push to ban every thought or speech, including the right to religious beliefs, that opposes the leftist liberal dogma of gender fluidity and sexual orientation.
For the Equality Bill seeks to redefine sex as unanchored from biology, and that anywhere outside one’s home — regardless if it’s a school or church — would be a “safe space” for liberal ideology.
Thus, “any Catholic Youth Organization sporting event is a place of recreation and exercise. Every Christmas nativity scene is a public display. Every pregnancy counseling center is a service or program. Every diocesan-sponsored women’s shelter and food bank is, well, a shelter and foodbank. If a church, mosque, synagogue — or any affiliated school, recreation center, or food pantry — provides any of these programs or services, it will be compelled to allow biological men, for example, to use the women’s restroom. Sports teams would be compelled to allow boys to use the girls’ locker room. Shelters for abused and battered women would be forced to admit males. And of course, girls would be forced to compete against boys in sporting events. The bill expressly denies any religion-based objection.” (Kenneth Craycraft, “The Equality Act’s Assault on Religious Liberty,” February 2021).
But the Philippines has not been exempt from that absurdity. In fact, we pioneered it with the enactment of Republic Act 11313 (the “Safe Spaces Act”).
Section 3.d thereof defines “gender” as “a set of socially ascribed characteristics, norms, roles, attitudes, values and expectations identifying the social behavior of men and women, and the relations between them.” Sec. 3.f further compounds this: “gender identity” refers to the personal sense of identity as characterized, among others, by manner of clothing, inclinations, and behavior in relation to masculine or feminine conventions. A person may have a male or female identity with physiological characteristics of the opposite sex, in which case this person is considered transgender.” This departs from long standing Philippine historical, legislative, and even judicial understanding of gender being intrinsically connected to one’s sex.
And effectively renders the “male” and “female” categorization as utterly meaningless. What our Congress did was to elevate and recognize something subjective, created purely in the mind of any random individual, contrary to centuries of Philippine social, cultural, religious, and official norms, and then imposed criminal liability on the basis of that subjectivity.
The Safe Spaces Act potentially threatens every employer, teacher, or any person in authority that does not subscribe to the idea of gender fluidity and transgenderism with fines or imprisonment. No exemption is made for religious beliefs, academic freedom, and even the military or police.
The current draft of the Anti-Discrimination Act (which reportedly passed third reading) removed — quite gratifyingly and correctly — references to “gender identity and sexual orientation.” Unfortunately, its definition of “gender” perpetuates the detached from biology definition in the Safe Spaces Act.
And quite disturbingly, there is still the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity bill (ironically pending with the House Committee on Women). Tellingly, one of its fundamental premises is a lie: that SOGI “rights” are provided for and obligated under international law. In truth no international law recognizes SOGI “rights.”
What international law does is recognize the rights of every human individual, which is what’s also embodied in our Constitution. To argue that international human rights laws are “sui generis,” for which everything uttered under its name should be granted, is nonsensical.
To paraphrase Cardinal John Henry Newman: we have human rights because we have responsibilities. Our rights exist as the flipside to our duties as human beings. Without that anchor, then everything, from cash dole-outs to Netflix access, can be labeled a human right.
The tragic disrespect many governments now have for rights can be blamed squarely on this. Ironically but foreseeably, liberal progressive activism simply made human rights utterly incoherent and of diminished value.
And discriminatory as well. With most of that discrimination against biological females.
For all of the Equality Bill’s 31 pages supposedly battling discrimination and despite mentioning “lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and queers,” not once do the words “female” or “mother” appear. “Women” is mentioned but under that Bill gender is “fluid” anyway.
The Safe Spaces Act does mention “female” but only in the context of “gender identity.” The Anti-Discrimination Bill also makes no mention of “female” and, quite tellingly, leaves out mention of academic freedom. A university professor speaking out against “gender science” is left with little protection.
All for what?
Our legislators are essentially sacrificing decades of women’s fight for equality at the altar of the LGBT lobby.
Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.