Philippines: Supreme Court Grants Accreditation to LGBT Political Party

"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."
- Mariano C. Del Castillo, Associate Justice, Republic of the Philippines Supreme Court in Ang Ladlad LGBT Party v. Commission on Elections

On April 8, 2010, the Philippine Supreme Court granted accreditation to Ang Ladlad, a political party of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Filipinos and their supporters, to run as a party list candidate in the election for Congress on May 10, 2010.

With this unanimous decision the Court has overturned the November 11 and December 16, 2009 decisions by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) prohibiting Ang Ladlad's accreditation Comelec argued that Ang Ladlad should not be accredited because it was "advocating immoral doctrines" and that granting accreditation would "be exposing our youth to an environment that does not conform to the teachings of our faith." Subsequently, on January 12, 2010, the Supreme Court issued a restraining order against Comelec, allowing Ang Ladlad to be temporarily accredited until the Court made its decision.

In stark contrast to Comelec's discriminatory decision to deny accreditation to Ang Ladlad, the Supreme Court held that "moral disapproval, without more, is not a sufficient governmental interest to justify exclusion of homosexuals from participation in the party-list system." It further stated that Comelec's arguments "give rise to the inevitable conclusion that the COMELEC targets homosexuals themselves as a class, not because of any particular morally reprehensible act."

While the Supreme Court did not declare LGBT people as a protected class under the equal protection clause (Article 3(1)) of the Philippines Constitution, it held that laws of general application should apply equally to LGBT people, who "deserve to participate in the party list system on the same basis as other marginalized and under-represented sectors."

Supporting the human rights of all people, the Supreme Court stated that, "[f]rom 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." This decision drew on both Philippines constitutional law and comparative jurisprudence, including that of the United Nations and the European Court of Human Rights in its analysis.

The national and international support of Ang Ladlad's application and appeals was considerable. This included work such as the protest in Manila and the "I Am Not IMMORAL" video campaign, as well as international calls for Ang Ladlad's fair treatment.

IGLHRC congratulates Ang Ladlad on its successful petition and thanks the supporters of Ang Ladlad's application and petition. The Philippines Supreme Court has sent a clear message that regardless of political affiliation, people cannot not be excluded from the a political process simply because of their identification with or support of the rights of LGBT people.