Student leaders at seven Catholic universities in the Phillippines have come out in support of the country’s pending anti-discrimination bill that would protect LGBT community members.
The Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression bill, known as the “SOGIE Equality Act” or simply “SOGIE,” prohibits discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation or gender expression. Though the bill was approved by the Phillippines’ House of Representatives in December 2016, the Senate still needs to pass the bill before it can be enacted into law. The SOGIE bill has been scheduled for debate 26 times in the Senate over the past two years, yet the vote has never come to fruition. While the House has approved a third and final reading, the Senate still has not debated it.
In an attempt to support the bill and push it forward faster, seven student body presidents from Catholic Filipino universities wrote a statement titled “A Society That Is Equal,” and published it on Facebook pages. The schools included Ateneo de Manila University, San Beda University-Manila, De La Salle University-Manila, Miriam College, St. Scholastica’s College-Manila, the De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, and University of Santo Tomas.
These student leaders cited their Christian faith as a reason to support the bill:
“Brought up on the Christian values of love and acceptance, and as leaders and representatives of students in Catholic academic institutions , we urge the Senate’s leadership and its members to stop the delay on the SOGIE Equality Bill and move for its approval,” the statement reads.
The students speak on behalf of their peers and community, saying,
“Every day with discrimination, people of diverse SOGIE get thrown out of their schools and homes, outed and ridiculed in the streets, barred from full employment, and deprived of access to healthcare.
Every day with discrimination, LGBT persons live in constant fear of being stigmatized, harassed and, in many documented cases, killed due to hate.
Every day with discrimination, members of the LGBT community are deprived of the full enjoyment of their rights.”
Such a public display of support for LGBT rights and protections in a heavily Catholic country is promising. The student leaders introduced themselves as “united under the pillars of respect for human diversity, love and equality,” and used these principles to advocate for the LGBT community. Those tenets are at the very heart of Catholic teaching, and in voicing public support for anti-discrimination measures, these leaders are acting out their faith.
These Catholic student leaders show that our Catholic faith is a reason to support LGBT people, instead of discriminating against them. Indeed, as our blog’s Campus Chronicles feature shows, many Catholic college students do indeed take LGBT-supportive stands based on faith. Though the bill is not yet a law, the widespread support of students at Catholic schools shows the potential for change not only in society, but in the Church.
Earlier this week, Bondings 2.0 reported on restrictive policies established for LGBT students at University of Santo Tomas, one of the schools represented in the statement. The diametrically different approaches that the university’s administrators and student take to LGBT issues highlights the generational difference on these issues in the Catholic Church. The youth’s view is sure to be our future.
–Lindsay Hueston, New Ways Ministry, August 17, 2018