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Pacquiao against anti-discrimination bill

Boxing champ blames murder victim

   Senator Manny Pacquiao
Senator Manny Pacquiao

Philippines’ Senator Manny Pacquiao cited the Bible and accused a 2014 murder victim of fraud while arguing against an anti-sexual harassment bill during a senate session on Monday, February 13.

Senator Risa Hontiveros was defending Senate Bill No. 1271 or the Anti-Discrimination Act, which seeks to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression (SOGIE), when Pacquiao argued that cross-dressing can be used to “commit fraud.” He cited the case of Jennifer Laude, a transgender Filipino woman, who was killed in 2014 by U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton. Pacquiao alleged that the court had downgraded the case against Pemberton from murder to homicide because Laude did not tell Pemberton she was physically a male.

“Jennifer also was at fault because he did not say he was a man,” Pacquiao said.

Hontiveros countered by saying that there were existing laws that can punish fraud, but what they were debating about on the bill was “simple expression of gender identity.”

“She [Laude] was just being true to her person and the one at fault was Pemberton as ruled by the court. He hurt and killed Laude. So let us not resort to victim-blaming,” said Hontiveros.

Sen. Leila de Lima later corrected Pacquiao, explaining that the downgraded charge against Pemberton was not due to an element of deceit on Laude’s part, but was due to the absence of aggravating circumstances.

Senator Pacquiao also claimed, “Even in the Bible, we read that the woman should wear women’s [clothing]; and the man, for men’s wear. That’s what I believe.”

Hontiveros pointed out that the Bible also has many entries on being open to neighbours, which could be applied in considering the bill. She quoted Galatians 5:14, “Love your neighbour as yourself,” and this should include those neighbours who have different sexual orientation or gender identity.

Senator Pacquiao was heavily criticized in early 2016 for saying that homosexuals were “worse than animals.” Although he apologized for the statement, the huge public backlash caused several of his sponsors, such as Nike, to drop him. HBO Sports, which carries Pacquiao’s boxing matches, issued a statement to put distance between the network and Pacquiao’s extreme opinions. Currently Pacquiao is also supporting a bill to execute people for drug crimes.

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