Geraldine Roman vows House probe vs LGBTQ+ discrimination

MANILA, Philippines – Geraldine Roman, the first transgender woman elected to the House of Representatives, vowed on Tuesday, August 14 that there would be a probe into the discrimination of a mall employee against transgender woman Gretchen Custodio Diez.

Roman, the 1st District Representative of Bataan, told reporters at the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) Cubao police station, that she would "file a resolution for an investigation in aid of legislation into this incident, hindi natin maaaaring palampasin ito (we cannot let this pass)."

As Roman was interviewed, Senator Risa Hontiveros, who sent one of her lawyers to assist Diez, slammed the incident on social media.

"For those who say that we do not need a SOGIE Equality Law because LGBTQ+ people are accepted in the Philippines: A trans woman has just been humiliated in a mall restroom in Cubao. She was cuffed and brought to [Camp] Karingal! LGBTQ+ persons face harassment & discrimination every day. This must stop!" Hontiveros said in a mix of English and Filipino across her accounts.

Diez was arrested at around 3 pm on Tuesday after she documented how she was being barred by a janitress from entering the women's bathroom at the Farmer's Market mall in Cubao, Quezon City. Diez has since been released after public outcry pushed the janitress to dropping the unjust vexation case against her.

Roman said she was disappointed that the harassment and discrimination of a transgender woman happened in Quezon City, which she touted had the "most advanced" anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination ordinance in the country.

But she said lawmakers need to look beyond the local government.

"There are a lot of people who would say that she was just one case. But I am sorry to say, a lot of these types of incidents happen throughout the country," Roman said.

The Philippines is known to be one of the more tolerant countries in the world to the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community, but it has yet to pass a bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

She added: "The LGBT community might be a minority, but they are still Filipinos whose rights have to be protected, and we as members of Congress have to stand up for equality." –

Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers security, crime, and the city of Manila for Rappler. He was chosen as a Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.