This website requires JavaScript.

Primer: Quezon City’s Gender-Fair Ordinance

Primer: Quezon City’s Gender-Fair Ordinance
A photo of Gretchen Custodio Diez posted on her Facebook account on July 8, 2019.

The harassment of transwoman Gretchen Custodio Diez at a mall in Quezon City on Tuesday has put to light the city government’s landmark anti-discrimination ordinance. The case is a test as to how the ordinance will be enforced.

Diez was handcuffed and brought to a police station supposedly for recording her confrontation with a mall sanitation crew who prevented her from using the women’s restroom at Farmer’s Plaza in Cubao.

Mayor Joy Belmonte – who shepherded the passage of the ordinance when she was vice mayor and head of the city council in 2014 — condemned the incident, describing it as a clear form of discrimination against a member of the LGBT+ community.

The mayor, in a statement posted on her Facebook page, said the management of Farmer’s Mall has clearly violated a provision of the ordinance that requires government offices, private and commercial establishments from designating “all-gender toilets.”

She ordered the city’s Business Permits and Licensing Department to ensure that all business establishments comply with the provisions of the ordinance.

The first of its kind in the country, Quezon City Ordinance No. 2357, series of 2014 provides for a comprehensive anti-discrimination policy on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGIE).

It was, in a sense, an expanded version of a 2003 ordinance that prohibits discrimination against members of the LBGT+ community in workplaces in the city.

Coincidentally, the 2014 measure was deliberated upon by the city council after a transwoman, Mara La Torre, filed a criminal complaint against security guards of a call center where she was working over their refusal to allow her to use the women’s restroom.

Officially called the “Gender-Fair Ordinance,” the local law seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination “that offend the equal protection clause of the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution.”

The ordinance imposes a penalty of at least 60 days but not more than one year in prison and/or a fine of at least P1,000 but not more than P5,000 depending on the discretion of the court.

It also specifically stated that nothing in the ordinance shall preclude the victim from initiating a separate and independent action for damages and affirmative relief.

Here is a list of prohibited acts under the ordinance: