Why not use Homo sapiens? 'We have discrimination,' says Gretchen Diez

MANILA, Philippines – Gretchen Diez has a response to the question that caused fire for Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III asking why the need for the use of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) terms was needed when people could just use "Homo sapiens."

She says it's because of discrimination.

"Pwede naman [gamitin]. Supposedly dapat Homo sapiens na lang eh para mas madali, plain and simple. But we started creating a binary system. From homo sapiens, sineparate natin into men and women. That's where it all started, we started labeling, right? And that's the root of discrimination," Diez said in a Rappler Talk interview on Thursday, August 15.

(We can use it. We can use Homo sapiens because it is easy, plain and simple. But we started creating a binary system. From homo sapiens, we separated it into men and women.)

Where the question started: On Wednesday, Senator Risa Hontiveros delivered a privilege speech, calling her colleagues to pass the SOGIE equality bill after it died in queue in the previous Congress.

Hontiveros said Diez's case gave a "fresh wind" to the issue, after her arrest and rejection from using a women's bathroom have caught the nation's attention.

Midway through the interpellations for Hontiveros' speech, Sotto asked: "Why that lengthy letters? Why not just Homo sapiens? We’re all the same. Why do we have to segregate the gays from the lesbians from the straight guys?”

Echoing Hontiveros' response during the Senate session, Diez said Sotto's proposal could have been possible had it not been for the prejudice against queer people.

"Discrimination is supposed to be a beautiful word, having the ability to identify right easily recognize people. But instead of recognizing people, recognizing differences, we tend to use it against each other," Diez said. – Rappler.com

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.