LGBTs give Joel Villanueva rainbow cake, ask senator to support ADB

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates surprised Sen. Joel Villanueva with a visit today to offer him a rainbow cake and to to urge him to fulfill his commitment to support the Anti-Discrimination Bill (ADB). In last week’s plenary debate on the Anti-Discrimination Bill, Senator Villanueva asked Senator Risa Hontiveros, principal author of the bill, whether bakers who refuse to bake wedding cakes for same-sex couples are committing discrimination.

Villanueva was referring to the Colorado Court of Appeals ruling that found a Christian-owned bak-ery guilty of violating the State’s Anti-Discrimination Act when it turned away a gay couple in 2012. Villanueva expressed concern over how the ADB may infringe on the right to exercise religious be-lief. Hontiveros, however, argued that allowing an establishment to deny services invoking religious belief can lead to denial of basic services to LGBT people.

“When services open to the general public are denied to LGBT people, that’s discrimination and that’s wrong.”” said Tacing Marasigan, spokesperson of the Lagablab Network, a coalition of sev-eral organizations pushing for gender equality and the protection of LGBT persons against discrim-ination and abuse. “We should be allowed to enjoy cakes when cakes are supposed to be for eve-ryone,” he added.

“We hope that Sen. Villanueva, as co-author of the bill, will see the dangers of allowing the use of religion as a license to perpetuate inequality,” stated Meggan Evangelista of Babaylanes. “We hope that he will not change his mind about supporting the ADB, and will continue as its co-author without diluting any of the bill’s important provisions.”

“Sen. Villanueva must understand that the ADB is for everyone— if a cake was denied to a straight man by a bakery owned by a gay person only because he is straight, he also gets protection under this proposed bill,” added Evangelista.

The measure is currently seeing breakthroughs in its history since it was first filed 18 years ago. For the first time, the ADB is being debated on the Senate plenary.

“The time to have an Anti-Discrimination Law is now,” said Marasigan, “it has been too long and the wait comes at the cost of safety and lives of many LGBT Filipinos.”