“We’re All Human, Right?”: Social Representations of LGBT + in Senate Hearings on the SOGIE Equality Bill in the Philippines

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The 2019 Senate hearings on the proposed anti-LGBT + discrimination legislation in the Philippines re-ignited the 20-year-long debate on LGBT + protection in a country both known as a “gay-friendly nation” (Kohut in Pew Research Center, 2013; Manalastas et al., 2017) and “the last bastion of conservative Catholicism in Asia” (Bloomer et al. in Policy Press, 2020). Prior studies have looked at various positions on the bill and how it was constructed to lobby for or oppose its passage. The present study contributes to the existing literature by looking at how LGBT + people are socially represented in these legislative debates—highlighting how public talk in political spaces has social and material consequences on LGBT + people.


The current study used archived livestream recordings of the 2019 Philippine Senate hearings and social representations theory (SRT) to explore how LGBT + people are socially represented by groups who are positioned as pro- and anti-SOGIE Equality Bill.


The results of this study show how the pro-Bill speakers focused on representing “LGBT + as human,” particularly as “normal humans,” “God’s creation,” “marginalized humans,” “exemplary marginalized humans,” and “productive members of society.” Meanwhile, anti-Bill speakers represented “LGBT + as wrong,” specifically as “just feelings, not fact,” “disordered condition,” “wrong lifestyle choice,” “harmful foreign ideology,” “social problem,” and “respectable without their LGBT + identities.”


Public talk in a political setting can (de)humanize LGBT + people, legitimizing both inclusionary and exclusionary social practices.

Policy Implications

Anchoring on social representations can direct how to shift future talks toward supporting the SOGIE Equality Bill and delegitimizing exclusionary practices.