The Supreme Court’s recent decision, passing with a vote of 13-2, rejecting the COMELEC’s two resolutions disqualifying Ang Ladlad from the party list elections is definitely one of the best pieces of news I have heard all week (and the week is not yet over)! Finally, I can vote for a party list organizaton that actually represents me! See the news articles from Inquirer, the Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, ABS-CBN and GMA.
The following paragraphs from the Supreme Court’s decision bear repeating:
We are not blind to the fact that, through the years, homosexual conduct, and perhaps homosexuals themselves, have borne the brunt of societal disapproval. It is not difficult to imagine the reasons behind this censure – religious beliefs, convictions about the preservation of marriage, family, and procreation, even dislike or distrust of homosexuals themselves and their perceived lifestyle. Nonetheless, we recall that the Philippines has not seen fit to criminalize homosexual conduct. Evidently, therefore, these “generally accepted public morals” have not been convincingly transplanted into the realm of law.
From the standpoint of the political process, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender have the same interest in participating in the party-list system on the same basis as other political parties similarly situated. State intrusion in this case is equally burdensome. Hence, laws of general application should apply with equal force to LGBTs, and they deserve to participate in the party-list system on the same basis as other marginalized and under-represented sectors.
As such, we hold that moral disapproval, without more, is not a sufficient governmental interest to justify exclusion of homosexuals from participation in the party-list system. The denial of Ang Ladlad’s registration on purely moral grounds amounts more to a statement of dislike and disapproval of homosexuals, rather than a tool to further any substantial public interest.
We do not doubt that a number of our citizens may believe that homosexual conduct is distasteful, offensive, or even defiant. They are entitled to hold and express that view. On the other hand, LGBTs and their supporters, in all likelihood, believe with equal fervor that relationships between individuals of the same sex are morally equivalent to heterosexual relationships. They, too, are entitled to hold and express that view. However, as far as this Court is concerned, our democracy precludes using the religious or moral views of one part of the community to exclude from consideration the values of other members of the community.
I’m so happy I could burst! But the fight is not yet over. The next step is to help Ang Ladlad campaign so that they can get just enough votes to have at least one representative in Congress. Remember that Ang Ladlad is #89 on the ballot. So, won’t you vote for them?
Anyway, I’d like to mention that I have been debating this Ang Ladlad-COMELEC issue with an orthodox Catholic guy on his blog. He posted an article back in November praising the COMELEC’s resolution to disqualify Ang Ladlad and I engaged in a discussion insisting that while the Catholic Church can indeed discriminate against the LGBT sector, the Philippines, as a secular nation, can and must not. In the end, he had to fall back on that single mention of “Almighty God” in the preamble of the Philippine Constitution to buttress his argument that the Philippines ought to embrace Christian ideals.
As I expected, he recently posted an article decrying the Supreme Court’s decision. Again, I rebutted his points. I have no illusion of changing his mind, but I do hope that he can concede the point that even if he thinks that the Supreme Court’s decision is immoral, that it is still, objectively speaking, quite legal. I do hope that I was able to project a high level of discourse. Anyway, he called on the Catholic faithful to rise up to battle:
With the Supreme courts decision in favor of LADLAD, we have lost a battle and not a war. I am calling on the Church Militant. Arise from your slumber. Awake! The war is on! Let us recover the word “militant” from the the militant Left. Beat your ploughshares into swords and join in this battle of ideas. The future of Philippine Christianity is at stake! Fire! Foes! Awake!
And to that, I say, “Bring it on!”