Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ang Ladlad issue splits Comelec

December 18, 2009 04:51:00
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines — A petition for party-list accreditation from a gay rights group has become a divisive issue among the election commissioners, forcing Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Jose Melo to intervene and cast the final dissenting vote against Ang Ladlad.

The Comelec, meeting en banc on Wednesday to hear Ang Ladlad’s motion for reconsideration, voted to uphold a Second Division ruling last November rejecting Ang Ladlad’s petition to be recognized as a party-list group.

The decision, released Thursday, effectively bars Ang Ladlad, which advocates for gay rights, from joining the 2010 elections as a party-list group.

The commissioners voted along division lines, with the Second Division members reiterating their earlier decision to reject Ang Ladlad and the First Division members voting to overturn that decision.

Tie break

With the en banc evenly split at 3-3, Melo cast the tie-break vote on the side of the Second Division.

Melo defended the Second Division’s ruling that Ang Ladlad advocated immorality and violated the “moral parameters” set by the Bible and the Koran, the Christian and Muslim holy books, respectively.

“They are possibly religion-based, but as a society, the Philippines cannot ignore its more than 500 years of Muslim and Christian upbringing, such that some moral precepts espoused by said religions have seeped into society and these are now publicly accepted moral norms,” the Comelec chair said in his separate opinion.

“Until the time comes when Ladlad is able to justify that having mixed sexual orientations and transgender identities is beneficial to the nation, its application for accreditation under the party-list system will remain just that,” he added.

Original decision

In their original decision, the Second Division, composed of commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, quoted passages from the Bible and Koran and said that the lifestyle of the 22,000-strong Ang Ladlad violated morals and faith. It also said the group posed a danger to young Filipinos.

The First Division, made up of Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Armando Velasco and Gregorio Larrazabal, disagreed and voted to overturn the decision.

The First Division members said there was no legal basis for rejecting the Ang Ladlad petition in the first place, with Sarmiento noting that the group’s petition “contains nothing that is morally reprehensible.”

What immorality?

Larrazabal denounced the Second Division decision, noting that the “resolution’s reliance on biblical and koranic provisions to sustain its finding of immorality blurs the separation between Church and State.”

He said Ang Ladlad’s petition made it clear that the group does not promote immorality.

“On the contrary, it merely attempts to make this commission appreciate the size of the country’s LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] community, its current plight, and the means by which petitioner-movant intends to help correct this situation,” he wrote in his opinion.

The 2009 petition was the second attempt by Ang Ladlad to join the party-list race. The Comelec rejected their first try in 2007 because of their lack of national presence. Kristine L. Alave

Original Story:

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