Report by Kristine Servando
MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday rejected Ang Ladlad for party-list accreditation on the grounds that the party advocates "sexual immorality" and "immoral doctrines."
Ang Ladlad is an organization of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT).
In a ruling dated November 11, the Comelec said that although the party presented proper documents and evidence for their accreditation, their petition is "dismissable on moral grounds."
Page 5 of the ruling states that Ang Ladlad's definition of the LGBT sector as a marginalized sector who are disadvantaged because of their sexual orientation "makes it crystal clear that the petitioner tolerates immorality which offends religious beliefs."
The document quotes passages from both the Bible and the Koran (taken from internet site www.bible.org) that describe homosexuality as "unseemly" or "transgressive."
The Comelec goes on to state that accrediting Ang Ladlad would pose risks for Filipino youth.
"Should this Commission grant the petition, we will be exposing our youth to an environment that does not conform to the teachings of our faith," the ruling stated.
'Gays are threats to youth'
This statement is followed by a quote by preacher Lehman Strauss published in a website saying "older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth."
The Comelec said it is "not condemning" the LGBT community but "cannot compromise the well-being of a great number of people."
The document was signed by Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, and Elias Yusoph.
Ang Ladlad also applied for party-list accreditation in 2007, but was denied this due to the lack of regional membership in the Philippines.
'Painfully obsolete ideas'
Danton Remoto, President of Ang Ladlad, told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview that they will contest the Comelec ruling before the Supreme Court.
"This is a decision of painfully old men with painfully obsolete ideas on homosexuality. We are in the 21st century already, we are fighting for human rights. They do not know what they are talking about," he said.
Remoto, who taught literature at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University for over 20 years, criticized the Comelec's allegation that older homosexuals are threats to the youth.
"How would I have stayed in the country's premier exclusive Catholic school (Ateneo) if I were a threat to the youth?" he stated as an example.
He also took issue against the Comelec ruling's frequent citation of internet-sourced reports, saying that a legal document should at least use primary sourcing. Remoto said this spoke of "intellectual bankruptcy" among Comelec officials.
Remoto said that the Comelec ruling is offensive to the LGBT community and an insult to their human rights.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, however, said he does not consider the Comelec's dismissal of Ang Ladlad's petition for party-list accrediation as a human rights issue.
"They might bring it up because they might feel offended of being called immoral. In that case, it's their right to bring whatever action is deemed necessary," he told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak in a phone interview.
He added that the right to be voted for is not absolute and is subject to reasonable regulation.
Remoto also questioned the Comelec's decision to deny the party's accreditation based on moral and religious reasons since the Constitution provides for separation between the Church and State.
"Since when did the Comelec become a moral arbiter? The Comelec is a state institution, [it is] not the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines," he said.
"The Comelec 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," Remoto added.
Jimenez said it is standard for the Comelec to consider what each party-list stands for before accrediting them.
He cited the case of the Samahang Magdalo, a reformist group led by detained mutineers, who were denied party-list accreditation on the grounds that they "advocated violence."
The Ang Ladlad is requesting help from the Ateneo Human Rights Center in filing a motion for reconsideration before the Comelec, before raising the issue to the Supreme Court, where Remoto believes the party may have "some hope."
All is not lost for Remoto and his crusade for LGBT rights, however, since he announced plans to run for Senator in 2010 "under a big political party." He will make a formal announcement in 2 weeks.
Should the Comelec approve his candidacy, he will be the first openly gay senatorial candidate in recent history.