I do believe that gays have a right to have their voices and concerns heard in the public sphere and not just in the beauty parlor. The latest decision of the COMELEC not to accredit Danton Remoto's Ang Ladlad gay political party sends back an honest discussion of gay rights and their role in Filipino society back into the closet.
What I object to is that the COMELEC has ruled in terms of morality, which I believe it shouldn't have done since its mandate is to protect the ballot and not people's morals. Leave that to the MTRCB, but then again the censors' rights to do that is very questionable.
The COMELEC's Second Division resolved as reported in the Philippine Daily Inquirer
"“Should this Commission grant the petition, we will be exposing our youth to an environment that does not conform to the teachings of our faith"
and that Ang Ladlad's petition "must fail" because homosexuality offends the morals and goes against Christian and Muslim faiths.
If there is nothing that offends the non- Establishment of Religion clause in our Constitution, then this must be it.
Section 5 Article III of the Constitution of the Philippines says
"No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious expression and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights."
The COMELEC doesn't want to offend "our faith" Whose faith? Then they define those faiths, Christianity and Islam. In doing so they favour these religions. What about Buddhism which has adherents in the Philippines too and have no problems with gays? Why is Buddhism not being protected? Why not Atheists who don't have a problem with gays? The State must be neutral with regards to religion. That is the spirit of the non-establishment of religion clause.
Furthermore, the COMELEC Second Division ruled
"We are not condemning the LGBT, but we cannot compromise the well-being of the greater number of our people, especially the youth”
Which leads me to ask if gays are carriers of a dangerous contagion. Are gays criminals?
If anyone says "yes" to anyone of those questions then we will have to shout "Seig Heil"
My gay friends say that they will continue with their struggle and as one gay wag remarked
"They would like to protect the youth from gays but fail to realize that many of the youth are gay. So what's there to protect? Hahahahahaha (the gay way of laughing)"
The Philippine ruling elite are indeed stuck in a medieval time warp!
But I wish Danton Remoto sees this not just an instance of discrimination against gays but an attack on the Secular principles on which our liberties lie. I do hope he lodges a test case on religious establishment in this country.