The Supreme Court has suspended a Manila regional trial court judge for using homophobic slurs against his litigants and imposing his religious beliefs in court.
In an 18-page decision dated March 9 and made public on July 6, the High Court found Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 26 presiding Judge Jorge Emmanuel Lorredo guilty of sexual harassment, slapping him with a 30-day suspension with no pay and a total fine of P50,000.
In 2019, Marcelino Espejon and Erickson Cabonita filed a complaint against Lorredo, accusing him of being biased against their sexual orientation in court.
According to the court documents, the judge persistently asked the two if they were homosexuals and later told them that it was a "sin."
"Pagka-bading, tomboy, lesbian, ayaw ng Diyos yun," he said in court.
Lorredo continued imposing his religious beliefs and said that being homosexual merited punishment from God. He claimed he was only warning Espejon and Cabonito.
"So pag meron kang lesbian relationship, paparusahan 'yung anak mo. Dengvaxia di ba? [Kayo din] kasi may kasalanan kayo sa Diyos eh."
Lorredo had also admitted to settling 101 cases based on his religious beliefs.
The Supreme Court found these statements as "obviously offensive, distasteful, and inexcusable" and have "no place in our courts of law."
"The Court has always espoused care in the conduct of judicial proceedings, ever sensitive into to justifiably offend the litigants and erode the public's confidence in our justice system," the decision read. "Thus, any form of discrimination by reason of gender and 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."
According to the New Code of Judicial Conduct, judges have the duty to ensure equal treatment and understand diversity arising from race, religion, age, sexual orientation, and social and economic status.
This would be the second time Lorredo had been penalized over improper remarks. When he was first sanctioned, he faced a P5,000 fine and a stern warning.
"As frontliners who serve as the visible representations of the judicial branch at the grassroots level, judges must avoid not only impropriety but the appearance of impropriety," the High Court said.