Ging Cristobal in "GMA News"

Quezon City Approves Landmark City Ordinance Protecting LGBT Persons
By Patricia Denise Chiu

"In what advocates describe as gift to the city, the Quezon City Council on Monday approved a city ordinance banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.

'This is very special and better than other ordinances, kasi di lang pine-penalize yung actions, but there is also affirmative action. Maagang regalo ito ahead of the QC pride march in December,' said Ging Cristobal, project coordinator for the Asia Pacific region of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and vice chairperson of the Quezon City Pride Council.

The ordinance, principally authored by First District Councilor Mayen Juico, was passed unanimously after a marathon eight-hour session attended by more than 30 city councilors, Cristobal said in an interview with GMA News Online.

Cristobal’s group is among those who lobbied for the passage of the ordinance, which includes sections that prohibit discrimination in terms of employment, education, delivery of goods or services, insurance and access to accommodations, among others.

It expands a 2003 resolution that centered on discrimination of homosexuals in terms of employment only.

Meanwhile, other than sanctions for those who violate the ordinance, the new city-wide ordinance also provides venues to educate employers and educators on the rights of LGBT individuals.

'Sa employment, ang gusto nila, ma-inform ang employees na merong karapatan ang LGBT persons. In fact, isa sa pinakamaganda dito, yung dapat yung mga establishments, ay magkaroon ng rest room for transpeople,' Cristobal said.

Under the new ordinance, establishments will be directed to designate a comfort room that can be used by all genders, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE).

In the same interview, Cristobal revealed that the landmark city ordinance, the first of its kind in Metro Manila, was passed, thanks in part to the support of QC Mayor Herbert Bautista and Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte.

In an earlier interview with Outrage magazine, the only LGBT magazine in the country, Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte highlighted the importance of an ordinance that will protect the rights of the LGBT.

'There are many LGBT [people] in our city, and I believe they are such a strong and important force in our city’s progress and development,' Belmonte said, adding that their empowerment will pave the way for increased productivity.

'Sa tingin ko, kapag mas ma-empower pa natin sila, mas maipapakita pa natin sa kanila na sila ay ating minamahal, mas magiging productive sila. There’s so much they can do for the city if we help them,' she added.

Meanwhile, Cristobal also clarified that while the ordinance was formulated with the rights of the LGBT community in mind, it is useful to everyone in the community, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.

'Ang maganda dito is the inclusion of gender expression, and this can apply to any person, even heterosexuals, pwede nila magamit itong ordinansa. Halimbawa yung isang babae na medyo masculine ang presentation niya, nadidiscriminate din sila [whether or not they identify as part of the LGBT community.] Kasi sabi daw pang LGBT lang, sabi namin hindi, pasok din ang heterosexual, ang lahat ng tao,' she said.

The ordinance will be implemented after Implementing Rules and Regulations are drafted by the city, in coordination with its pride council."