Over the years, Philippine politics has witnessed several bills or laws that have raised eyebrows like the “Body Piercing and Tattooing Regulatory Act” (2013) or the House Bill 3839 a.k.a Pinoy Primetime or The Koreanovela Ban (2014). Today, people are bewildered over a bill submitted by Congressman Bienvenido “Benny” Abante. Here’s everything you need to know.
‘The Heterosexual Act of 2022’
READ: Manila Rep. Benny Abante files HB 5717 or the Act Recognizing, Defining and Protecting the Rights of Heterosexuals.
— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) November 9, 2022
Manila Congressman Bienvenido “Benny” Abante made headlines today after filing HB 5717 or the Act Recognizing, Defining and Protecting the Rights of Heterosexuals. The Heterosexual Act of 2022 seeks to “recognize, define, protect, and guaranty the rights of heterosexuals in their dealings with their fellowmen,” including those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Anyone who violates this act is liable to five to seven years of imprisonment and a fine not less than PHP100,000 nor PHP200,000. The bill also states that heterosexuals have the right to express their views on homosexuality.
People condemn the bill
‘HETEROSEXUAL ACT OF 2022’ A PATHETIC STUNT TO STRENGTHEN BIGOTRY
Militant LGBT group Lakapati Laguna blasts Manila Rep. Benny Abante for filing the unnecessary, counterproductive, and illogical HB 5717 or the Heterosexual Act of 2022 which only legitimizes homophobia. pic.twitter.com/Nic1GcjEgs
— Lakapati Laguna (@LakapatiLaguna) November 9, 2022
As one might expect, the bill was met with lots of criticism. LGBT group Lakapati Laguna says The Heterosexual Act of 2022 only legitimizes homophobia in the country and removes LGBT people of inherent human rights. The group’s chairperson Lau Reyes, questions when has the state or any institution discriminated against sexuality.
“Instead of treating heterosexual people as some oppressed sector, we should focus on combatting the state’s draconian and anti-people policies and decisions, which affects everyone,” said Reyes.
Again, giving equal rights to the LGBTQIA+ community does not mean fewer rights for others. It’s not a pie. How can they grant this “Heterosexual Act” when heteros aren’t really oppressed? Ang galeng https://t.co/mZYds1SZHS
— KaladKaren (@jervijervi) November 9, 2022
TV host KaladKaren expressed her disappointment, too. She said giving equal rights to the LGBTQIA+ community doesn’t mean fewer rights for others. “It’s not a pie. How can they grant this “Heterosexual Act” when heteros aren’t really oppressed?” she wrote on Twitter.
READ: Reyna Valmores, chairperson of Bahaghari PH, calls Abante’s proposed measure “a joke of a law.”
— Inquirer (@inquirerdotnet) November 9, 2022
Meanwhile, Bahaghari chairperson Reyna Valmores called the Heterosexual Act “a joke of law” and was drafted to mock those advocating gender equality. The activist adds the time spent on the bill could’ve been better used to address the problems of Filipinos suffering discrimination and violence.
when your last name is ABANTE but your worldview is paATRAS
— gellywinkle (@gellatrix) November 9, 2022
And it looks like there’s more…
Other bills filed by Cong. Benny Abante in the House of Representatives was deemed “problematic” by some like the Bible Reading Act of 2022, a bill that seeks to include the Bible as literature in the curricula across public and private educational institutions.
But, do we really need the Heterosexual Act?
why do we need a “heterosexual act” when we literally have the SOGIE Bill? Everyone has SOGIE, including straight people, so why try to pass something regressive and can clearly be used against the LGBTQ+ community? tsaka di naman lahat naniniwala sa relihiyon mo eh https://t.co/eT5uxIrnqO
— clarice (@iveronclarice) November 9, 2022
Congresswoman Arlene Brosas of Gabriela Women’s Party emphasizes that heterosexuals have constitutional rights. She points out heterosexuals don’t suffer from persecution for their beliefs compared to LGBTQIA+ individuals and women.
There’s also the pending SOGIESC Equality Bill, which advocates for equality, regardless of your gender identity, sexuality, and gender expression. Having said that, it raises the question if there’s a need for a bill like the Heterosexual Act.
The current situation of the LGBTQ+ community in the Philippines
There have been numerous stories of discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. Recently, one transwoman went viral for reportedly experiencing unfair treatment at a ZARA store in Bonifacio Global City after entering the women’s fitting room. There are also multiple reports of students facing bullying and exclusion because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. Some cases of discrimination even escalate to violence.
It’s disheartening that the Philippines still has a long way to go for genuine social acceptance toward the LGBTQ+ community, but many will continue to raise their flags for equality.
In a statement posted on Cong. Benny Abante’s Facebook fan page, the lawmaker has filed bills “that seek to uphold the rights of all Filipinos” like HB 118 or the Anti Discrimination Act of 2022, and HB 191 (the Geriatric Health Act). It says the congressman will always respect other people’s beliefs and opinions.
“While we welcome interest in HB 5717, it is our hope that attention to the other priority measures and advocacies of Rep. Abante is also given, especially those that will have a tremendous impact on the lives of the Filipino people.” the statement concludes.
What are your thoughts about the Heterosexual Act?