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The Supreme Court (SC) has issued guidelines for the promotion of gender-fair language and courtroom etiquette pursuant to the enactment of Republic Act 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act, which prohibits and penalizes several forms of gender-based sexual harassment.

In a statement Wednesday, the SC said that the guidelines had been approved during its en banc deliberation on Tuesday.

The use of non-sexist language in official documents, communications, and issuances is encouraged by the tribunal.

For instance, it cited the use of “person” instead of “man” or “humanity” instead of “mankind.”

It added that the use of masculine terms for professions or occupations is discouraged — “chairperson” instead of “chairman” or “business owners” instead of “businessmen.”

The guidelines are part of efforts by the Committee on Gender Responsiveness in the Judiciary (CGRJ), headed by Associate Justice Amy Lazaro-Javier, and underscores sensitivity towards persons with diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC).

The Safe Spaces Act defined gender as “a set of socially ascribed characteristics, norms, roles, attitudes, values, and expectations identifying the social behavior of men and women, and the relations between them.”

“Our courts are courts of evidence, and its power to take judicial notice of matters is limited. Therefore, courts cannot and should not perpetuate gender stereotypes, which rest on unfounded generalizations regarding the characteristics and roles of binary and non-binary genders, but indisputably influence the perspectives of the judges and litigants alike. This is evident with respect to matters at issue before the courts, as well as in the language the courts employ in adjudication,” the high court added. (PNA)

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