Amnesty believes in a world that recognizes, accepts and celebrates diversity regardless of any distinction, including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

Complementing our work against discrimination, our campaign on SOGIESC-related rights seeks to promote a culture of inclusivity and create spaces where individuals with diverse SOGIESC are safe and free to express themselves.

Our main focus is on human rights-based SOGIESC education. We develop modules, and regularly conduct workshops and facilitators training with and for schools, local government units, and communities around the country. We are also working with young women and queer advocates on the Safe Spaces Project (SSP) which aims to address discrimination against young LGBTQIA+ within campuses by working with students, faculty, and school administrations, and mobilizing support to create safe and open learning environments. At present, the project is focused on developing a standardized SOGIESC Training for students, and a localized Inclusive Teaching Module for educators.

The fight for an anti-discrimination legislation 

It has been more than 20 years since the first legislation recognizing and criminalizing discrimination was first filed in congress. And yet in the decades since, the Philippine Congress have again and again, failed to pass a legislation that provides proper safeguard and protection for people with diverse SOGIESC; neglecting and leaving behind many Filipinos struggling against daily injustices– denied access to social services, gatekept from job and learning opportunities, subjected to harassment and violence from their own communities, and deprived of means and mechanisms to demand accountability. 

The SOGIE Equality Bill recognizes the fundamental rights of every person regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. At its core, it aims to provide fair and equal opportunities for everyone in accessing basic social services, opportunities, healthcare, protection, and justice while acknowledging and breaking down the barriers that exist for people with diverse SOGIESC.  

In 2022, the SOGIE Equality Bill passed through the Senate Committee on Women, Children, Family Relations, and Gender Equality and is set to move forward, with 19 out of 24 senators signing the committee report. Although signifying a potential progress towards a legislation, opposing lawmakers, such as Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, continue to mar any headway by aggressive delaying tactics and deliberate misinformation and propaganda.  

Amnesty is determined to see the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill, and is working with our members, and LGBTQIA+ activists and groups such as Philippine Anti-Discrimination Alliance of Youth Leaders (PANTAY) and the Stop the Discrimination Coalition (STDC) to amplify the calls and push the legislation forward.  

In a country where marginalized groups already experience hostile and discriminatory environments, women and LGBTQI people face disproportionately high levels of inequality when accessing health care, education, housing, and employment. By ignoring or delaying the enactment of laws to combat these, the Philippines loses opportunities to reaffirm the core fundamental belief that human rights must be respected for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Rocky Rinabor, Amnesty Philippines Chairperson 2021-23

Alongside the SOGIE Equality Bill, Amnesty Philippines is also working with the Stop the Discrimination Coalition (STDC) for the passage of Comprehensive Anti-Discrimination Bill (CADB). This proposed measure will make any form of discrimination against vulnerable groups–indigenous peoples, youth, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA+ community–illegal specially when accessing basic services and seeking protection. 

In lieu of a legislation, Amnesty is supporting groups and communities in various cities including Iloilo, Caloocan, and Baguio (with the Amianan Pride Council) in advocating for the creation and proper implementation of Anti-Discrimination Ordinances in their respective localities. 

Understanding SOGIESC

What does sexual orientation mean?

A person’s sexual orientation refers to who they are attracted to and form relationships with. Everyone’s sexual orientation is personal and it’s up to them to decide how – and if – they want to define it, and for some people this changes over time.

Sexual orientations include lesbian (women who are attracted to women), gay (usually men who are attracted to other men, bisexual (attracted to men and women), pansexual (attracted to individuals, regardless of gender), asexual (not sexually attracted to anyone).

What does transgender mean?

Transgender (or trans) people are individuals whose gender identity or gender expression is different from typical expectations of the gender they were assigned at birth.

Not all transgender people identify as male or female. Some identify as more than one gender or no gender at all.

Some trans people decide to transition, which is the process of living your life as your true gender. There is no single transitioning process. Some people may adopt new pronouns, change their name, apply for legal gender recognition, and/or undergo gender affirming surgery or hormone therapy.

Being transgender has nothing to do with a person’s sexual orientation. You can be a trans man and be gay – or be a trans woman and be lesbian.

What does intersex mean?

When someone is born with sex characteristics that differ from what is typically seen as female or male traits, they are known as intersex. For instance, in some cases, a person’s body has both male and female characteristics. Another instance is where a person’s chromosomal make-up is neither typically male nor female. These characteristics might be present at birth or become more apparent during or after puberty.

Many intersex people are subjected to invasive, non-emergency and irreversible “normalizing” surgeries, often when they are children but sometimes later in life. These procedures leave people with devastating and long-term physical or mental difficulties.

What does Non Binary mean?

Non-Binary is a gender identity and an umbrella term for people whose identity falls outside the gender binary. Some people do not identify wholly or at all with the gender they were assigned at birth – some people have no gender at all. Your anatomy doesn’t determine your gender identity and neither does the “gender binary”.

Gender binary is the idea that there are only two genders – male and female. In reality, gender is much more like a spectrum – it isn’t set in stone and some people have fluid or fluctuating gender identities.