The Supreme Court has suspended a Manila trial court judge for work-related sexual harassment after making homophobic slurs against litigants in his court.
In an 18-page decision, the high court found Presiding Judge Jorge Emmanuel Lorredo of the Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 26 liable for his "homophobic remarks", suspending him for 30 days ordering him to pay a fine of P50,000.
The ruling stemmed from the complaint filed by litigants Marcelino Espejon and Erickson Cabonita in 2019 alleging that at a preliminary conference, Lorredo showed bias and partiality by persistently asking them about their sexual orientation and telling them that homosexuality is a "sin."
The court quoted Lorredo as saying: "pagka-bading, tomboy, lesbian, ayaw ng Diyos yun.... So pag meron kang lesbian relationship, paparusahan yung anak mo."
Such remarks constitute homophobic slurs "which have no place in our courts of law," the Supreme Court said as it found Lorredo in violation of the New Code of Judicial Conduct.
The code requires judges to ensure equal treatment of everyone before the courts and to understand diversity arising from race, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, and social and economic status, among others.
Lorredo's remarks were also found to be in violation of the Administrative Disciplinary Rules on Sexual Harassment Cases applicable to all officials and employees of the government, where work-related sexual harassment is committed in acts that further cause discrimination, insecurity, discomfort, offense or humiliation.
The Supreme Court also found that Lorredo, who admitted to have handed down decisions on 101 cases citing the Bible, allowed his religious feeling to interfere with his judicial functions in the complainants' case, leading the court to state that he failed to act not only with impartiality but to appear impartial.
The court reminded judges to avoid not only impropriety but the appearance of impropriety, and to ensure that they are seen by the public as guided by the law and not their personal or religious beliefs.