Gretchen Diez meets Duterte, teases 'surprise' for LGBTQ+ community

MANILA, Philippines – Six days after she was prevented from using the women's restroom and arrested for documenting the incident, transgender woman Gretchen Custodio Diez was booked for a meeting with no less than President Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang on Monday evening, August 19.

Diez told Rappler in a phone interview that she was invited by Duterte, their meeting began at around 8 pm, and it lasted for about 40 minutes.

"We discussed my issue of discrimination, and the possible passing of [the] SOGIE bill, and the President was very positive about it," Diez said.

She added, "There will be a surprise." (WATCH: Rappler Talk: Gretchen Diez on living her truth)

Malacañang released a photo of the meeting that showed the President with Diez, Senator Bong Go, and Bataan 1st District Representative Geraldine Roman, the first transgender elected to the Philippine Congress.

Diez said she was surprised at how familiar Duterte was with the discrimination incident. She said the President assured her that he was on her side by saying "he does not tolerate discrimination."

Diez recently held a press conference where she urged Duterte to certify the SOGIE equality bill as urgent after it languished in the past Congress and did not even make it to the President's table.

"I think it'sa very big celebration, not just for me. It's not just about my case. We are now finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," Diez said. –

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.