Discriminated for color, Binay asks: 'Do I need to file a bill protecting people like me?'

MANILA, Philippines – Since she has been a victim of discrimination based on her dark skin, should Senator Nancy Binay file a bill specific to this form of discrimination? 

Binay posed this question at the 3rd Senate hearing on the anti-discrimination bill on Wednesday, September 4, to drive home her point that the proposed bill to specifically protect the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community from discimination may just be integrated into the comprerehensive anti-discrimination bill.

"Siguro ‘yung (Perhaps) discrimination should cover everybody, not just gender. I’ve been discriminated on my color. Does that mean that I need to file a bill to protect people like me?" she asked.

Binay's skin color had been the subject of memes and jokes. The senator had also managed to use self-depracatory jokes to her advantage (READ: Nancy Binay airs ‘dark’ Christmas ad ahead of 2019 campaign)

"Sana 'yung discussion natin {I hope our discussion) when it comes  to discrmination should be more universal, should be more encompassing," she added at the hearing.

She then suggested that it might be good to see if  Senate Bill No. 689 or the anti-discrimination bill "may be harmonized or may be incorporated" into SB 137 or the comprehensive anti-discrimination bill of Senator Juan Edgardo Angara. 

This way, Binay said, "the concept of discrimination won't be segmented."

SB 137 seeks to to prohibit discriminatory acts on the basis of the following: age, racial or ethnic origin, religious belief, political inclination, social class, SOGIE, marital status, disability, medical history, and physical features, among others.

In response to Binay, Senator Risa Hontiveros, the Senate women and gender equality chairperson, likened the comprehensive anti-discrimination bill to the Magna Carta of Women, which she also supports.

She said that after the Magna Carta of Women was passed, Congress was passing piecemeal legislation to complement that law.

"We're supporting both bills, the comprehensive anti-discrimination bill and the SOGIE equality bill. We’re trying to see how they can complement each other. But we continue to look at the SOGIE equalty bills to find particular protections against discrimination based  on SOGIE," Hontiveros said.

In the 17th Congress, the House of Representatives passed the SOGIE bill on third and final reading but its counterpart measure languished in the Senate and did not even make it past second reading.  (EXPLAINER: What you need to know about SOGIE

During the hearing on Wednesday, groups opposed to the SOGIE equality bill reiterated that some provisions of the proposed measure were against freedom of speech, religious freedom, and showed "partiality" to a particular sector.

Groups supporting the measure said it was necessary to ensure protection for the LGBTQ+ community against discrimination. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.