Philippines: Demand that the Commission on Election Allow an LGBT Party to Run for Congress

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.

Join the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Ang LADLAD, an LGBT political party in the Philippines, in demanding that the Philippines Commission on Elections (Comelec) allow the immediate accreditation of Ang LADLAD so that its members can run for a seat in the Lower House of the Philippines Congress in the May 2010 national elections.

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 »

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