THE SUPREME COURT (SC) has suspended a first level court judge for making inappropriate comments about the sexual orientation of two litigants during a preliminary conference.
In an 18-page decision dated Mar. 9 and made public on July 6, the High Court ruled that Manila Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 26 Presiding Judge Emmanuel M. Lorredo showed conduct “unbecoming of a judge for his homophobic remarks after he imposed his religious beliefs in the conduct of his judicial functions.”
The court suspended Mr. Lorredo without pay for 30 days and ordered him to pay a fine of P50,000 for misconduct.
Under the New Code of Judicial Conduct, judges must ensure equal treatment of anyone in court regardless of race, sex, religion, age, sexual orientation, and social-economic status.
The court noted that Mr. Lorredo admitted to settling 101 lawsuits based on the Bible and his religious beliefs, which does not conform to his duty as a judge to act impartially at all times.
In 2019, a complaint was filed by the litigants against the judge after he repeatedly asked them if they were homosexuals and stressed that homosexuality was a “sin.”
The tribunal also said that Mr. Lorredo had violated the Civil Service Commission’s (CSC) disciplinary rules on sexual harassment cases as his action led to discrimination and humiliation of the litigants.
Under the CSC rules, degrading remarks or innuendoes towards an individual’s sexual orientation are classified as a less grave offense.
“As front-liners 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. — John Victor D. Ordoñez