Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso signed an anti-discrimination ordinance for members of the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex) community on Thursday afternoon.

IMG 0cd139a3953750628edbc6c0176d9022 V 1024x654 - Mayor Isko signs ordinance protecting LGBTQI community from discrimination
(Photo from MANILA PIO / MANILA BULLETIN)

City Ordinance No. 8695 or the Manila LGBTQI Protection Ordinance of 2020 was enacted in line with Domagoso’s “inclusive policy,” the ordinance read. 

“It is hereby the declared policy of the City of Manila, being the premier and capital city and thus the window of the country, to guarantee full respect of the dignity of every individual and their human rights by effectively eliminating any and all forms of discrimination against LGBTQI solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identity, expression thereby giving more substance to the equal protection principle as enshrined in the Constitution,” it added.

Domagoso said he will ensure that members of the LGBTQI community will be treated equally and with respect during his administration and said he recognizes their contributions to society. 

“Dito, in our small step, maiparamdam man lamang namin sa inyo na hindi uubra ang discrimination sa Manila, hindi pwedeng umubra ang discrimination dahil sa status niyo sa lipunan (Here, in our small step, we hope we can make you feel that discrimination because of your status in society is not welcome in Manila),” he said in his speech on Wednesday. 

“No harm will come to you while I’m mayor in Manila. We will not tolerate anybody,” he added. “Sa Manila, pantay-pantay kayo sa mata ng lokal na pamahalaan (you are all equal in the eyes of the local government).”

The ordinance bans people from denying or limiting access to employment and schooling opportunities; denying goods, services, and accommodation; and revoking any accreditation, recognition, and registration to members of the LGBTQI community on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

It is also now prohibited by Manila laws to subject members of the LGBTQI community to physical, verbal, and written abuse, even on social media, on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.

The Manila Gender Sensitivity and Development Council (MGSDC) will be established to oversee the proper implementation of the ordinance, coordinate with national government agencies for the promotion of gender awareness, and conduct trainings and livelihood programs for members of the city’s LGBTQI community.

Each barangay will also be mandated to set up an LGBTQI Assistance Desk that will receive complaints and facilitate programs for the said community.

Those who were discriminated for their actual or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and expression may file a complaint before their barangay chairman. If the incident happened in their school or workplace, they may file the complaint at the barangay where the school or workplace is located.

Violators will be penalized with a P1,000 fine or six months imprisonment for the first offense. Second-time offenders will be fined P2,000 or will be jailed for up to eight months. For the third offense, violators will be slapped with a P3,000 fine and up to one-year imprisonment.

Subsequent violations will be punished with a fee of P5,000 or one-year imprisonment.

Violators will also be required to undergo a human rights and gender awareness education by the MGSDC for a period to be determined by the court.

The ordinance also said that three years after its enactment, every establishment that is open to the general public will be mandated to set up gender neutral bathrooms. Those with large establishments with several comfort rooms will be made to designate a specific floor where gender neutral bathrooms will be located. 

This will be a condition precedent for the renewal of business permits.

The MGSDC, along with experts, representatives, and stakeholders from various organizations will come up with the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the ordinance within 60 days. 

The Manila Public Information Office will also conduct an information drive within 30 days to inform the public of the ordinance’s provisions.

Five percent of the annual budget of the city government will be appropriated to finance the Gender and Development plans and programs.

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