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23 Nov 2009

Philippines: Demand that the Commission on Election allow an LGBT party to run for Congress

The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has issued an action alert to demand that the Philippines Commission on Elections (Comelec) grants the immediate accreditation of an ‘LGBT political party’ Ang LADLAD so that its member(s) can run for a seat in the Lower House of the Philippines Congress in the May 2010 national elections.

The following was issued by IGLHRC on Nov 20, 2009:

 

Rights violated include:

 The right to non-discrimination, the right to equality before the law, the right to freedom of expression, and the right to participate in government.

The Issue 

On November 11, 2009, the Philippines Commission on Election (Comelec) rejected Ang Ladlad LGBT Party, Inc. (Ang LADLAD) from registering as a party on the grounds that Ang LADLAD advocates "immorality" and that homosexuals are a "threat to the youth." 

In an eight-page resolution, Comelec stated that Ang LADLAD could not run for a seat in the Lower House of the Philippines Congress, arguing that even if the group fulfilled the election requirements, their petition to run for Congress was dismissible because Ang LADLAD's doctrines "offend religious beliefs" in the Philippines.

The Comelec argued that its decision to reject Ang LADLAD was made to protect the country's youth from moral and spiritual degradation. "We are not condemning the LGBT, but we cannot compromise the well-being of the greater number of people, especially the youth," the Comelec stated in its resolution, which was signed by Nicodemo Ferrer, a Catholic Eucharistic Minister, Lucenito Tagle, a former Catholic Pastoral Council president, and Elias Yusoph, a Muslim Imam in the Philippines. The resolution also quoted Lehman Strauss, an American Christian fundamentalist who claims that "older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth."

In response, the Commission on Human Rights chair and former election lawyer, Leila de Lima, countered, "We do not think that Ang LADLAD seeks accreditation to promote immorality in the country, but to give a voice to a marginalized sector to push for further protection of their rights." She added, "Homosexuals are part of the Filipino family and unavoidably must be part of our politics."

Danton Remoto, chairperson of Ang LADLAD has announced that the party is contesting the Comelec ruling and has filed a motion for reconsideration. According to Remoto, Ang LADLAD will go as far as the Supreme Court if necessary to appeal the Comelec's decision. He told IGLHRC, "The Comelec is a state institution, it has no right to make decisions on morality because it is not a moral or religious institution. It is a political institution, and hence, should confine itself to politics."

The Comelec's resolution preventing Ang LADLAD from participating in the coming national election not only violates the Philippines Constitution, which guarantees the separation of Church and State, but also infringes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other international human rights treaties to which the Philippines is a party, which ensure the rights to equality before the law and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and the right to participate in government.

Local activists are concerned that Comelec will use delay tactics to postpone making a decision on Ang LADLAD's motion for reconsideration so that it will not be able to register in time to run in the 2010 election. Ang LADLAD has until December 1, 2009 to be allowed back on the party list.

An anti-discrimination bill (House Bill 956 or HB956) has been languishing in Congress for ten years which includes a section that would prohibit the rejection of the accreditation of any political party on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity of their members or target constituency (Section 4 (d)).

Comelec's decision demonstrates the urgency for Congress to pass such a law to prevent discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Philippines.

Read more about LGBT human rights in the Philippines »

Send a letter to the Comelec in the Philippines »

Contacts:

Please send your letters to the Commissioners of the Commission on Election:

Office of the Chairman
Jose A.R. Melo
email: chairman@comelec.gov.ph

Office of Commissioner
Rene V. Sarmiento
email: comm_sarmiento@comelec.gov.ph

Nicodemo T. Ferrer
email: comm_ferrer@comelec.gov.ph

Lucenito N. Tagle
email: comm_tagle@comelec.gov.ph

Armando C. Velasco
email: comm_velasco@comelec.gov.ph

Elias R. Yusoph
email: comm_yusoph@comelec.gov.ph

Gregorio Y. Larrazabal
email: comm_gylarrazabal@comelec.gov.ph

Office of the Executive Director
email: oed@comelec.gov.ph

 

Please also send a copy to:

Danton Remoto
Chairperson, Ang LADLAD
email: darnalipad_2000@yahoo.com
danton_ph@yahoo.com

Rep. Lorenzo "Erin" Tanada III
Chair of the Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights
House of Representatives
email: lorenzotanada@hotmail.com

Hon. Leila M. De Lima
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
email: chr.delima@yahoo.com 

Grace Poore
IGLHRC
email: gpoore@iglhrc.org
email: communications+action.alert@iglhrc.org

For a sample/template letter, click onto iglhrc.org. 

Philippines

Reader's Comments

1. 2009-11-24 09:13  
It's perplexing:-
1) When has the Comelec turned into the Philippines government's Ministry of Morality? "We are not condemning the LGBT, but we cannot compromise the well-being of the greater number of people, especially the youth," it said. But is it what this department is tasked to regulate? Shouldn't the country's Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health be the ones tasked to regulate this?

2) The credibility of Comelec is at stake. Though it's a healthy sign for its Commission to include leaders from different faiths, if these leaders cannot draw the line between Faith and State in their capacity as Commissioners of Elections, then they shouldn't be tasked to do this job. Otherwise, the laws governing Comelec should have been replaced with the Bible and the Koran.

3) There is also no justification for the statement, "older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth." The same can be said of "older practicing heterosexuals" and even clergy. There have been reported scandals involving gays as much as there are those involving straight men and even religious leaders. Also, research ( http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/HTML/facts_molestation.html ) shows that "there is no inherent connection between an adult's sexual orientation and her or his propensity for endangering others. Scientific research provides no evidence that homosexual people are less likely than heterosexuals to exercise good judgment and appropriate discretion in their employment settings. There are no data, for example, showing that gay men and lesbians are more likely than heterosexual men and women to sexually harass their subordinates in the workplace. Data from studies using a variety of psychological measures do not indicate that gay people are more likely than heterosexuals to possess any psychological characteristics that would make them less capable of controlling their sexual urges, refraining from the abuse of power, obeying rules and laws, interacting effectively with others, or exercising good judgment in handling authority."

4) As mentioned in the article, this act violates the Constitution. So, these Commissioners' resolution should be contested in court. Sue them.

5) There are many things that the Bible deem immoral. Examples include:
a) working 7 days in a week (e.g. businessmen running coffee-shops, stalls, and other businesses)
b) eating shellfish
c) tattooing one's body
d) women wearing gold jewellery (e.g. President of Philippines)
e) touching pig skin (e.g. leather goods and soccer balls made of pig skin)
f) shave hair on foreheads, and cut the edges beard
g) wear clothes made of two or more different fabrics (e.g. 60% cotton and 40% polyester)
h) Divorce not due to unfaithfulness of spouse
i) Women wearing expensive clothes (e.g. President of Philippines)

So why are these people not opposing these but selectively picking on homosexuals?
2. 2009-11-25 11:07  
Comment #3 was deleted by its author on 2009-11-29 18:09
4. 2009-11-29 18:09  
The (so called) International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has issued an action alert to demand that the Philippines Commission on Elections (Comelec) grants the immediate accreditation of an ‘LGBT political party’....IGLHRC demands? thats queer as if any one of importance in the Phillipines is going to listen to them...(;-(jejeje)... how conceited of them that they asurp their importance or influence

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