Sunday, November 15, 2009

The commission on morals

It was still, in all honesty, probably a long shot. I am talking about the application for party-list accreditation of Ang Ladlad, the group that seeks to represent the Filipino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Congress. Headed by the fuschia barong-sporting Danton Remoto, professor of English at the Ateneo de Manila University, Ang Ladlad already sought to be recognized – and failed – in 007. It tried again, for next year's polls,but a recent resolution by the Commission on Elections dashed the group's dreams anew.

Admittedly this country is not ready for such an edgy step. The Catholic church here remains a force – for good or for otherwise is debatable,of course, as that BBC debate I wrote about shows – to be reckoned with. There is no question with Jesus Christ, who is Lord and Savior and Healer and Comforter all at the same time. But the church officials, or at least some of whom we see on tv, pontificating, are a different thing altogether. They are almighty, unforgiving,absolute. They will scare the hooves out of you with the talk of eternal damnation. (I have yet to be enticed by the thought of eternal life. It sounds so...boring. like Twittering without the 140-character limit. I try to be a good girl for the here and now. But that's another entry.) See how they have stymied the passage of the reproductive health bill, despite its urgency? We're talking lives here, talking choices. And the politicians are mighty scared.

Ladlad tried, nonetheless, even though the prospect of success was grim at this point. It was determined to fight on. Ten, twenty years from now,who knows? Things change. Perceptions widen. But what got the LGBT community's goat was the basis of dismissal of its petition for accreditation: moral grounds.

And no, it was not the Catholic Bishops conference of the Philippines or any other denomination that heard and decided Ladlad's case. It was the Commission on Elections, specifically the second division which is composed of Commissioner Lucenito Tagle and two others.

According to the Comelec, Ladlad tolerates AND advocates immorality which offends religious beliefs. The commission proceeds to quoting several verses from the New Testament and the words of one Lehman Strauss in Homosexuality: The Christian Perspective. The resolution also lifts from The Muslim View of Homosexuality by Roy Waller.

Strauss also says “older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth.” the commission apparently believes him hook line and sinker because it proceeded to cite the provision of the Constitution mandating the state to protect the youth from moral and spiritual degradation.


We often complain of the Church stepping into the bounds of government. What's happening is the other way around, a government agency trying to act as the moral guardian of it's people. I am sure th commissioners who decided on the case belonged to another generation, a generation that saw homosexuality as an aberration, a sickness that must be cured. Are they at fault or are they simply prisoners of their time? The problem is they have a choice to set themselves free. Are they embracing that choice? Do they even know they have it?

I'm biased, of course. I grew up with a gay father figure, Papa Edwin, who was my mother's youngest brother. Danton himself was my professor at the Ateneo and Reader of my senior thesis (he gave me two As). I have gay and lesbian friends. Without these circumstances, will I be any less forgiving? I don't think so.

The Comelec should have restrained itself from making moral judgments. Who's to say what's moral and immoral? If it had wanted to deny Ang Ladlad its accreditation,it should have simply pointed out that the group did not represent a marginalized sector of society. The discourse was utterly uncalled for.

No comments: