Category Archives: Statements

Statement of Support for the SOGIE Equality Bill, an Act Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression (SOGIE)

The UP Center for Women’s and Gender Studies expresses its vigorous and unwavering support for a national law that protects all Filipinos from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression (SOGIE). We recognize that everyone has their own SOGIE, but lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI) people are discriminated against, marginalized, and oppressed for theirs in a society that privileges those who are cisgender, heterosexual, and gender-conforming. In the absence of a national law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of SOGIE, the unjust treatment towards LGBTQI people continues to severely impact their well-being and overall quality of life. The passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill is a matter of national urgency, as more than 80 million Filipinos reside in areas without anti-discrimination ordinances, with 25.8 million of them living below the poverty threshold.

As an institution that champions gender equality, we acknowledge that cisgender-heterosexual women and LGBTQI people experience similar forms of sex- and gender-based discrimination. We assert that upholding the rights of LGBTQI people must run parallel to upholding the rights of women. 

LGBTQI rights are human rights. Pass the SOGIE Equality Bill now!

Statement of UPCWGS Director Dr. Nathalie Lourdes Africa-Verceles during the SOGIE Equality Bill Hearing on 4 September 2019

I was Catholic school-educated from pre-school to high school, and the God I came to know is compassionate, just, and intolerant of oppression. 

I am as heteronormative and cisnormative as it gets. Assigned sex, female. Sexual orientation, heterosexual. Gender identity, woman. Gender expression, feminine. All in perfect congruence. Everything in place according to what society dictates as appropriate for my sex. Privileged on the basis of my sexual orientation, gender identity and expression. Free from the daily oppression experienced by those who do not fit into the socially-constructed norms on human sexuality.

Oppression. The scholars Launius and Hassel define oppression as, and I quote, “prejudice and discrimination directed toward a group and perpetuated by the ideologies and practices of multiple social institutions,” end of quote. They draw attention to how privilege and oppression are fundamentally about unequal power relations. For those of us who are fortunate enough to be in a position of privilege, is it compassionate and just to exercise our power by demanding adherence to ideologies and practices that we know are oppressive? Is not the moral imperative to dismantle all structures of oppression, to end all forms of inequality?

Human sexuality is diverse.

Launius and Hassel also pointed out that, and I quote, “the scientific and historical evidence of the malleability of gender—the wide range of sexualities across cultures; the range of expectations for masculine and feminine behavior across culture, time, and even an individual’s life span suggests that gender is not quite as ‘natural’ as we suppose,” end of quote.

A statement by the Psychological Association of the Philippines asserts that, and I quote, “Decades of scientific research have led mental health professional organizations worldwide to conclude that lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are normal variants of human sexuality,” end of quote.

Rigid beliefs on sex and gender place people in boxes, or entrap them in closets, and they do not represent realities on human sexuality. It is diversity that is a natural characteristic of human sexuality.

Sexuality is a development issue.

The Sexuality and Development Program of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex in the UK, emphasizes that sexuality is a development issue. It asserts that, and I quote, “Development should be about increasing people’s well-being, particularly of those who are poor and marginalized. Social and legal norms and economic structures based on sexuality have a huge impact on people’s physical security, bodily integrity, health, education, mobility, and economic status,” end of quote. Nobel Prize Laureate Amartya Sen declared, and I quote, “Development is freedom…the freedom to do and to be, to live the life one values or has reason to value,” end of quote. Being a member of the LGBTQI sector can have deleterious effects on an individual’s welfare. Prejudice and discrimination towards LGBTQI individuals impinge on their human dignity, their freedoms, and their capacities for self-actualization. 

LGBTQI rights are human rights.

According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, and I quote, “Deeply-embedded homophobic and transphobic attitudes, often combined with a lack of adequate legal protection against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, expose many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of all ages and in all regions of the world to egregious violations of their human rights. They are discriminated against in the labour market, in schools and in hospitals, mistreated and disowned by their own families.

The legal obligations of States to safeguard the human rights of LGBT people are well established in international human rights law on the basis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequently agreed international human rights treaties. All people, irrespective of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to enjoy the protections provided for by international human rights law, including in respect of rights to life, security of person and privacy…the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of expression,” end of quote.

I am as heteronormative and as cisnormative as it gets, but I denounce a world that oppresses those who are not like me. The sufferings of members of the LGBTQI community cannot simply be negated, ignored, or dismissed. Their struggles are inextricable from all other struggles for social justice.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex individuals are not going to disappear despite the non-fulfillment of their rights and the absence of adequate legal protection for them. They will merely remain persistently vulnerable to discrimination, abuse, and violence. From our position of privilege, do we choose to turn a blind eye to this?  Or do we utilize our power to create and nurture an economic, social, political, and cultural order that embraces an inclusive view of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression?

Human sexuality is diverse. Sexuality is a vital development issue. LGBTQI rights are human rights.


The University of the Philippines System Gender and Development (GAD) Committee and Offices of Anti-Sexual Harassment condemn in the strongest terms the possible release from prison of convicted rapist and murderer, ex-Calauan Mayor Antonio L. Sanchez. We are outraged that the perpetrator of crimes so heinous they were described by presiding Judge Harriet Demetriou as a “plot seemingly hatched in hell,” will benefit from the retroactive application of R.A. 10592, which increases the time allowances for good conduct among prisoners resulting in the reduction of their jail sentences.

In 1995, Pasig RTC Judge Demetriou found Sanchez and six of his men guilty in the 1993 rape-murder of Eileen Sarmenta, and the murder of Allan Gomez, both of whom were UP students. The sentence imposed was seven terms of reclusion perpetua and P11.3 million in damages for the students’ families. This decision was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1999.

We demand proof of “good conduct” for any consideration for his release. In 2010, it came to public attention that Sanchez was caught with P1.5 million worth of shabu inside a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in his cell at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa, and is allegedly involved in the drug trade in Muntinlupa.

We recognize the potential of R.A. 10592 to benefit political prisoners and low-income individuals who have been unjustly incarcerated due to lack of access to adequate legal representation. The crimes committed by Sanchez are so heinous that he should not qualify for any release. Seeing him walk free gravely defiles our ideals of justice.

Current Philippine conditions have shown how lives have become expendable through extrajudicial killings and how women are dehumanized by persistent attacks that legitimize misogyny and sexism. The release of Sanchez from prison will further reinforce the cheapening of human lives. 

We vehemently oppose any release for Sanchez from the New Bilibid Prison and demand that he serves his full sentence.