Philippines judge fined for 'homophobic slurs'

The court said it was a form of work-related sexual harassment

Philippines judge fined for 'homophobic slurs'

A judge based in the Philippines was suspended and fined by the Supreme Court (SC) for making homophobic slurs against two litigants in court.

The case stems from a 2019 complaint filed by the two litigants, where they accused the judge of "showing prejudgment of the case and obvious bias and partiality against them and their sexual orientation."

The complainants further alleged that the judge's treatment with them was "heavily influenced by his religious beliefs and impressions about homosexuality" that he tried to relate to the case.

Based on the court document, the accused judge also said in Filipino that "God does not like gays and lesbians" and that "if someone is in a lesbian relationship, their child would be punished."

The accused judge, who admits he is a Christian, denied in a comment that he prejudged the case during its preliminary conference and that he expressed the view that complainants were in a homosexual relationship.

According to the accused, he was only trying his best to guide lawyers and litigants who appear before his court to "arrive at a settlement with the help of the Bible." In fact, in his comments, the accused admitted that he "settled 101 cases using the Bible."

SC ruling

In an 18-page decision written by Judge Alfredo Caguioa, the High Court said it finds the accused guilty of simple misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a judge.

According to the SC, the statements the accused made during the preliminary conference, as well as the comment he filed on the case are "clearly tantamount to homophobic slurs which have no place in our courts of law."

"The fact that they were made by no less than a magistrate should rightfully upset the Court and must perforce be penalized," said the ruling.

Read more: Are firms accommodating LGBT employees?

It added that the statements by the accused during the preliminary conference violated the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Resolution No. 01-0940 as a form of work-related sexual harassment.

As punishment, the SC suspended the judge for 30 days for violating the CSC resolution. He was also handed a P40,000 (USD717) fine for being guilty of simple misconduct, with an additional P10,000 (USD179) for being guilty of unbecoming of a judge.

"While judges are not completely stripped of their freedom to express, exercise, or uphold their religious beliefs and convictions, it goes without saying that in doing so, their foremost duty to obey the rule of law should not stand to suffer," said the SC.

"At the same time, the Court has always espoused care in the conduct of judicial proceedings, ever sensitive not to unjustifiably offend the litigants and erode the public's confidence in our justice system. Thus, any form of discrimination by reason of gender or sexual orientation made by a judge and directed against any person with business before the court shall never be tolerated and must be strongly rebuked."

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