COMELEC’s “Miseducation” and “Misplaced” Homophobia

Rhea Penaflor
Posted November 23, 2009 from Philippines

Recently, I watched the program, Civic Debates over ANC on the dismissal of the petition of “Ang Ladlad,” (for the benefit of foreign readers, it means “The Coming Out”) a group comprising of bona fide sectoral organization of Lesbians, Gays, BisexuaIs, and Transgenders (LGBT), “like-minded individuals with the same concerns and interests”, seeking COMELEC accreditation as a party-list representative.

The debate was between Rep. Bienvenido “Benny” Abante, Jr. who is currently serving his second term as representative from the 6th District of Manila, as well as the full-time Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Bible Baptist Church and Ministries and Prof. Danton Remoto, national chairman of “Ang Ladlad”.

Danton Remoto, a prolific writer and outstanding teacher as the founder of “Ang Ladlad” was becoming frustrated for this is the THIRD time their group filed a petition as a party-list group. I was watching the debate and I heard Remoto right, all the group wanted was to have a representation in Congress for the LGBT that they will not be discriminated at work or school by reason of their sexual orientation. It is about equality regardless of sexual orientation. It was also about protecting this marginalized and underrepresented sector of the society that when they grow old, they have somewhere to go as Remoto puts it.

Why then is COMELEC so scared to accredit “Ang Ladlad” as a partylist group? The answer is quite simple.

The Philippines is still a very homophobic country. And it will remain to be HOMOPHOBIC as long as we have the same kind of resolution full of prejudice and biases penned by COMELEC. The COMELEC teaches us to despise LGBT. That the LGBT is an immoral group of people, therefore, we should not give them as chance to be heard. COMELEC’s “misplaced” homophobia, without any basis, tells us that GAYS are bad news or right away, immoral. Again, COMELEC’s basis is unfounded.

Simply put, LGBT’s have no room in our society.

We are a very conservative country where predominantly, the people are Catholic. The issue is not whether or not we are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The issue is whether or not we live immoral lives as human beings. Do we swindle other people or do another person wrong? Then even if one is straight or not, he or she shall still be punishable. He or she shall still be answerable to all his or her acts or omissions. He or she can still be immoral regardless of his or her sex orientation.

Rep. Benny Abante as he said is a traditional man. No problem with that. The law is there to prevent anarchy and chaos. Rep. Abante’s points are also very sound when he believes that orientation can be changed. True, it can be changed for others, but it is also a reality that there are those who struggled in accepting themselves for fear that they will also not be accepted by others. I respect though those who choose to keep quiet about their own sex orientation as that is one’s choice to flaunt or not, otherwise there is that fear that your family or friends might disown you.

Rep. Abante also has a point when he said that if “Ang Ladlad” is talking about wanting a representation in Congress on human rights, then we have lots already. Human rights we have to admit is encompassing. All “Ang Ladlad” asks is to be accredited as a party-list group so they can already run in the coming May 2010 national elections. If then, the people would not vote for “Ang Ladlad” then, the peoplehas spoken. That is what DEMOCRACY is all about, after all.

As a POPCOM-trained peer educator/counselor, I would like to define some terms which are often misused, thus, create confusion and misunderstanding.

The word “sex” refers to one’s being male or female. That is why in many trainings, fora and symposia, the best way to remember this is by telling the audience especially the adolescents that what you see down there is your sex. “Is it vagina or a penis that you see, tell me? I-check abi” (Please check), I would jokingly tell them. Unless you’re hermaphrodite or the politically correct medical term now is intersexual, then you’re either male or female. Sex therefore, is biological. Gender on the other hand, is what comes after. Now that you know that biologically you are a female or a male, how do you act? Do you act masculine or feminine. That now is gender.

Sex orientation is one’s being straight, gay or homosexual, or bisexual. In short, it is one’s sexual attraction to another person. It answers the question, “Is he attracted to the same sex, opposite sex or both?”

While it is true that one’s sex orientation may be changed as emotions change, experiences change and there are many factors to consider why one is gay, lesbian or bisexual. The sad part though is there are LGBT who have tried to change or have struggled to change because of the stigma. Now the problem is if they cannot change, then what can they do? There are those who do not act on their being homosexual. They recognize it but they do not act on it.

Good for those who are straight. Bad if you are either LGBT. Bad if you are too honest to admit that you are one of them. Worse, if you come out and say that you are one. It has always been a taboo because we know that the society is there to bully the LGBT as opinion columnist Raul Pangalangan also stressed in his article dated Nov.19, 2009.

Now that the “Ang Ladlad” is fed up of the excuses of COMELEC’s miseducation, it is high time that the people take a stand on this. One need not be LGBT in order to take a stand. This is how a free and self-governing society should be.

To quote COMELEC’s resolution, “We are not condemning the LGBT, but we cannot compromise the well-being of the greater number our people, especially the youth.”

What basis do the COMELEC have? And what well-being are they talking about? Are they at the same time underestimating the understanding of the youth? I have trained and helped adolescents and the youth for so many years now and I think that they are more than desensitized than the close-minded COMELEC.

Let me quote the famous poet Rod Mckuen, "It doesn't matter who you love, or how you love, but that you love."

Peace, COMELEC! The Supreme Court as the court of the last resort is still fair and just. There is still hope, “Ang Ladlad”.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence 2009

Comments 2

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  • Mauri Favaron
    Dec 01, 2009
    Dec 01, 2009

    Rhea, how right.

    We human are first of all human. Our worth, the sense we are here, is maybe our love, and our god will. Each of us with h** own right to life in peace, and without judgements placed as tags - or stones.

    Recently I discovered a book, by prof. Joan Roughgarden, titled "The Genial Gene".

    Herself (incidentally, and with no special judgment value) a transgendered person, in this book provides arguments I found compelling about evolution. A view completely different from the "fight for life" so common today among sociobiology.

    I confess, found the reading quite hard. But, also, a possible revolution (would enough people receive the message).

    By the way, prof. Roughgarden, is in my opinion one of the greatest women scientists of the moment. And, courageous: in popular literature (and much gender science books) the sociobiological view tends to prevail; it's so well fitted to a World where fight-for-any-nothing is the only currency. A new voice, saying beautiful and innovative things, who fortunately found a way to express.

    "Gender" as a cage?

    I wonder whether at the root of homophobia there is a not-too-unconscious desire to preserve social constructions and categories, whose greater effect is to hamper people (the more vulnerable especially) to grow and thrive as individuals.

    Gender is one, and maybe the most pervasive, of these "categories". All the stereotypical qualities of one or the other gender should be qualities of any complete and thriving human being; sorting them in two classes and pretending they should stay separate is equivalent to condemn human to develop as mental deficients, in my view.

    We know, constructing and defending cages is a way (perverse, I add) to affirm power on someone. And, who know, maybe feeling "grand" for just that petty act of domination. A good way opened to so many nullities to fine themselves important (the same basic drive which generated all fascisms, beginning with Italy in 1922, and persisting). The very essence of cracking patriarchy?

    But sure, if you want to make cages effective, you also are in a desperate need to remove in a way or the other anyone who does not fit-in. Once more, "artificially".



  • everlyrose
    Sep 22, 2010
    Sep 22, 2010

    wake up comelec wake up

    when is the next lobbying, rally or usapin please let me know