Immoral, and a threat to the youth. When the 2nd Division of the Commission on Elections rejected Ang Ladlad’s application for accreditation on the basis of ‘immorality’, it committed a grave offense against the Constitution. In one decision, it consciously dismantled the uninfringeable separation of Church and State; in using religious doctrines as the bases of what should have been a secular judgment, it reduced a State institution, an autonomous constitutional body at that, to an instrument of sectarianism and bigotry. The application of the Bible and the Koran in its decision is a display of blatant theocracy, an act that has no place in our democracy. COMELEC should be reminded that it is an institution of law, not of faith.
The ruling smacks of outright discrimination and prejudice. In its ruling on Ang Ladlad’s accreditation, it strayed outside the realms of public policy and violated its own mandate. We are disturbed that the relevant policies, the party-list law (RA 7941) and the Supreme Court’s eight-point guidelines in the accreditation of party-list groups, were altogether disregarded by the Commissioners. If Ang Ladlad was able to fulfill all the requirements provided by law, then it should have been recognized. The use of any standard outside of what the law provides is illegal and discriminatory.
The larger implication of the decision is doubly disturbing. If it stays, it can be used as a basis to disqualify any individual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) candidate or any other party-list group that advocates LGBT rights. It sets restrictions to public participation that violate the Constitution and internationally recognized human rights instruments. By defining immorality to cover homosexuality or the so-called ‘homosexual lifestyle’, it likewise sends the wrong signal to bigoted public officials and private individuals. COMELEC’s bigotry could lead to the institutionalization of hatred and discrimination. It could lead to the criminalization of homosexuality.
We urge the COMELEC to immediately strike down the anomalous resolution issued by the 2nd Division. Bigotry has no place in our election laws, and certainly not in our democracy. We take to task Congress as well, to act with urgency and pass the Anti-Discrimination Bill, a measure that seeks to penalize discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.
Hatred and divisive sectarianism are the real threats to our society. We do not contest the importance of morality in public life; on the contrary, we believe that moral standards are necessary. We draw the line, however, on the imposition of sectarian biases on public policy. On matters of the State, our moral standards should be within the realms of our common values – our democracy, respect for equality and diversity, and the supremacy of human dignity.
ImmorAlliance is an emerging Coalition of LGBT organizations, partylist groups, alternative law groups, women’s organizations, human rights groups, student organizations, free thinkers and individuals who reject the prejudiced and discriminatory COMELEC Decision on Ang Ladlad.