Remnants of the Dark Ages

Remnants of the Dark Ages
Ellen Tordesillas
Ang Pahayagang Malaya
November 16, 2009

‘Is there in fact a secular, governmental policy against homosexuality?’

Leila de Lima, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights said reasons cited by the Commission on Elections in denying the application of Ang Ladlad for accreditation as sectoral party illustrates that gays are objects of ridicule, contempt and violence which renders them marginalized.

It’s good that De Lima took up the cudgels for Ang Ladlad, a nationwide organization of lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

De Lima read to the Comelec commissioners Article 7 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, to which the Philippines is a signatory, that states: "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination."

De Lima said there is also Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which provides that, "All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status."

De Lima said, "These two instruments are looked upon and provide the principle and standards that must be demonstrated by the Comelec in its mandate under the Constitution, the Omnibus Election Code and the Party List Law. The UDHR and ICCPR also prescribe the normative direction that States must practice in line with the rights laid out in the instruments. The norm of non-discrimination of persons running for elections is at issue in this instance."

De Lima’s statement was a reaction to the appalling decision of the Comelec’s second division headed by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer with Elias Yusoph and Lucenito Tagle as members denying the application of Ang Ladlad for accreditation as sectoral representative of the marginalized Filipino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to "protect our youth from moral and spiritual degradation."

Ferrer, Yusoph and Tagle took verses from the Bible and the Koran as basis for their decision that "petitioner tolerates immorality which offends religious beliefs." They quoted an American bible teacher, who said that that ‘’older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth."

From what cave did they come from?

The unenlightened trio also said that the Comelec’s Law Department stated that Ang Ladlad "apparently advocates sexual immorality; consensual partnerships or relationships by gays; ) serve no other purpose but to satisfy the market for violence, lust or pornography; offend any race or religion; tend to abet traffic in and use of prohibited drugs; and are contrary to law, public order, morals and good customs, established policies, lawful orders, decrees and edicts."

From out of nowhere, they mentioned, "Those who shall sell, give away or exhibit films, prints, engravings, sculpture or literature which are offensive to morals. (As amended by PD Nos. 960 and 969)."

De Lima said, "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. It is a fact that gays are often objects of discrimination through ridicule, contempt and various forms of violence. Just as this decision clearly illustrates."

She further said, ‘Comelec has exhibited, at the very least, a retrogressive not progressive way of thinking. Our views on homosexuality must be in accordance with progressive human rights thought. In an age of growing, rather than receding, tolerance and promotion of human rights, this Decision appears to be a misplaced edifice of arcane views on homosexuality."

De Lima took issue with the Comelec’s citation of verses from the Bible and Koran as basis for their decision. Ferrer and company quoted Paul’s Letter to the Romans (1:26, 27) saying "For this cause God gave them up into vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet".

From the Koran, the commissioners quoted, "For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." (7.81). "And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): Then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!" (7:84) "He said: "0 my Lord! Help Thou me against people who do mischief!""(29:30)."10

De Lima said, "There is a clear breach of the secular-religious divide, which is enshrined in our Constitution. Citing both Christian and Islamic doctrines [as the basis to justify the Decision] are certainly beyond the scope of authorities which the Comelec may employ in resolving the petition."

Moreover, the CHR chairperson explained that the reference to Art. 201 of the Revised Penal Code as the only statutory ground to support the finding of immorality begs the question – is there in fact a secular, governmental policy against homosexuality?

"And if this test were to be rightfully applied for Ang Ladlad, shouldn’t this be equally applied to each and every candidate running for public office?"

Sige nga, tingnan natin!

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Blog:www.ellentordesillas.com

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