Philippines president says LGBT+ people should have separate bathrooms

Rodrigo Duterte speaking at a lectern, wearing a black suit and tie

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has backed the idea that trans women should be given separate bathrooms.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said that Duterte “agrees with the concept” of LGBT-only bathrooms.

“He said there should be a third restroom. We talked about it last Sunday,” Panelo, also the president’s chief legal counsel, told ANC on Monday, August 19.

Panelo suggested that such a move would “solve” the discrimination which led to a trans women being handcuffed for attempting to use a women’s bathroom in a shopping mall on August 13.

Gretchen Diaz (right) at the police station in Cubao, Quezon City. (QCPD Public Information Office)

Gretchen Diaz was visiting the Farmer’s Plaza mall in Cubao, Quezon City, when she tried to use the women’s facilities.

After being told by a janitor that she needed the use the men’s bathroom, Diaz began filming on her mobile phone.

In response the janitor called the mall’s security team, who escorted her to a police station in cuffs.

Philippines trans bathroom row a ‘clear violation’ of the law.

The incident was labelled a “clear violation” of the Philippines’ gender discrimination laws by a group of house representatives, who filed a resolution urging Congress to launch a formal investigation.

It has also sparked renewed calls for the long-awaited Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression Equality (SOGIE) bill to be signed into law.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, who refiled the bill in July, laid out an impassioned argument for it on Wednesday, August 14, only to spend 35 minutes explaining the basics of gender identity to a group of her cis male colleagues.

Following Hontiveros’ speech, senator Koko Pimintel approached the pedestal to ask: “The good senator used the term trans woman, may we know what exactly that is?”

After explaining, Hontiveros, a former Nobel Peace Prize nominee, patiently fielded follow-up questions such as: “What if a straight male person who is simply voyeuristic would enter the ladies room with another intention?”

She explained that men who plan to sexually harass women in public bathrooms usually do so without going to the effort of dressing up.

“They just enter as themselves, dressing in their everyday garb. They don’t need to pretend.”

Panelo said that given Duterte’s position on trans-only bathrooms, “logically he supports the bill”.