MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday rejected Ang Ladlad for party-list accreditation on the grounds that the party advocates "sexual immorality" and "immoral doctrines."

Ang Ladlad is an organization of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT).

In a ruling dated November 11, the Comelec said that although the party presented proper documents and evidence for their accreditation, their petition is "dismissable on moral grounds."

Page 5 of the ruling states that Ang Ladlad's definition of the LGBT sector as a marginalized sector who are disadvantaged because of their sexual orientation "makes it crystal clear that the petitioner tolerates immorality which offends religious beliefs."

The document quotes passages from both the Bible and the Koran (taken from internet site that describe homosexuality as "unseemly" or "transgressive."

The Comelec goes on to state that accrediting Ang Ladlad would pose risks for Filipino youth.

"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," the ruling stated.

'Gays are threats to youth'

This statement is followed by a quote by preacher Lehman Strauss published in a website saying "older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth."

The Comelec said it is "not condemning" the LGBT community but "cannot compromise the well-being of a great number of people."

The document was signed by Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle, and Elias Yusoph.

Ang Ladlad also applied for party-list accreditation in 2007, but was denied this due to the lack of regional membership in the Philippines.

'Painfully obsolete ideas'
Danton Remoto, President of Ang Ladlad, told in a phone interview that they will contest the Comelec ruling before the Supreme Court.

"This is a decision of painfully old men with painfully obsolete ideas on homosexuality. We are in the 21st century already, we are fighting for human rights. They do not know what they are talking about," he said.

Remoto, who taught literature at the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University for over 20 years, criticized the Comelec's allegation that older homosexuals are threats to the youth.

"How would I have stayed in the country's premier exclusive Catholic school (Ateneo) if I were a threat to the youth?" he stated as an example.

He also took issue against the Comelec ruling's frequent citation of internet-sourced reports, saying that a legal document should at least use primary sourcing. Remoto said this spoke of "intellectual bankruptcy" among Comelec officials.

Remoto said that the Comelec ruling is offensive to the LGBT community and an insult to their human rights.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, however, said he does not consider the Comelec's dismissal of Ang Ladlad's petition for party-list accrediation as a human rights issue.

"They might bring it up because they might feel offended of being called immoral. In that case, it's their right to bring whatever action is deemed necessary," he told in a phone interview.

He added that the right to be voted for is not absolute and is subject to reasonable regulation.

Immoral institution?

Remoto also questioned the Comelec's decision to deny the party's accreditation based on moral and religious reasons since the Constitution provides for separation between the Church and State.

"Since when did the Comelec become a moral arbiter? The Comelec is a state institution, [it is] not the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines," he said.

"The Comelec has no right to make decisions on morality because it is not a moral or religious institution. It is a political institution, and hence, should confine itself to politics," Remoto added.

Jimenez said it is standard for the Comelec to consider what each party-list stands for before accrediting them.

He cited the case of the Samahang Magdalo, a reformist group led by detained mutineers, who were denied party-list accreditation on the grounds that they "advocated violence."

The Ang Ladlad is requesting help from the Ateneo Human Rights Center in filing a motion for reconsideration before the Comelec, before raising the issue to the Supreme Court, where Remoto believes the party may have "some hope."

All is not lost for Remoto and his crusade for LGBT rights, however, since he announced plans to run for Senator in 2010 "under a big political party." He will make a formal announcement in 2 weeks.

Should the Comelec approve his candidacy, he will be the first openly gay senatorial candidate in recent history. Report by Kristine Servando,

As citizen and Senator of the Republic, I question the recent rejection of Ang Ladlad Party to be a duly registered sectoral party by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) because of allegations of ‘immorality.’ The Comelec invoked passages from the Holy Bible and the sacred Qu’ran to justify their decision on Ang Ladlad’s petition for party registration.

The Republic of the Philippines is a secular state, and as such, we must ensure the clear separation of church and state in our civil and political affairs, as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution, Article II, Section 6. Invoking justifications from sacred texts should not stand in the way of our secular and liberal democratic principles and the rights for political representation of all well-meaning Filipino citizens.

Every Filipino, regardless of sexual orientation, can exercise the fundamental right to be represented in the country’s political affairs, including the right to run for public office as political parties and individuals, and to present their platform to the Filipino electorate. There should be no room for discrimination and bigotry against any group representing gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation from within the ranks of our government.

We are now at a historic time when nation after nation has begun to decisively dismantle the barriers of the past – such as those that denied groups and individuals from being rightfully considered as equals. Many of these barriers were premised on differences based on gender, race and sexual orientation. While more and more countries have been embracing deserving homosexuals as state leaders (e.g., Iceland), as ministers (e.g., France), and as regular members of their armed forces (e.g., USA), by its recent decision, our COMELEC is dangerously institutionalizing social exclusion and intolerance, and degrading a party like Ang Ladlad as political pariah.

A fair and honest election, fundamentally presupposes that every legal individual and party group aspiring for public office should be treated with respect, without bias, and with equality, irrespective of their religion, race, ethnicity, class and sexual orientation.

-Sen. Loren Legarda

MANILA, Philippines—Head of gay party list group ``Ang ladlad’’ Danton Remoto on Wednesday filed a motion for reconsideration before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to allow it to join the 2010 elections.

In his eight-page petition, Remoto said the Comelec resolution that junked their petition for accreditation was based on “mis-appreciation of facts.’’

Remoto said the resolution does not establish the immorality of the petitioner and its subject was contrary to constitution and laws.

“No evidence or record establishes the immorality of the petitioner or its officials and members. With this petition, we seek a more legally-oriented decision from the en banc headed by Chairman Jose Melo,” said Remoto, a former professor with the Ateneo de Manila University and officer of the UN Development Programme.

The focal point of the group is to “represent marginalized sector of society disadvantaged merely because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Remoto.

The Comelec second division, which is headed by Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, junked the group's petition for accreditation on November 11 citing its advocacy of “immoral doctrines” such as “intimate and sexual relations with individuals of a different gender, of the same gender, or more than one gender."

“The advocacy for intimate sexual relations reflected that that “petitioner [Ang Ladlad] tolerates immorality, which offends religious beliefs. This petition is dismissible on moral grounds,” said Ferrer, when the resolution was promulgated.

However, Remoto said the Commission en banc should look into the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that “the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights.”

Remoto explained: “Majority of LGBT or lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders in the country are marginalized in terms of economics and are under-represented in the country. They say that there are gays in Congress and Senate but despite that, they do not advocate or fight for our rights so we wanted to gain representation because it is our civil and political right.”

“And if Commissioner Ferrer would say there are gays in Congress and Senate, he should have the intellectual fortitude to name them,” said Remoto.

In a letter to the Comelec on Wednesday, Rene Saguisag, chairman of Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism Inc. (MABINI) chairman demanded an apology from Comelec on the decision. He said he was “saddened by the Comelec ruling against Ang Ladlad because it cited the Bible and Koran against Danton Remoto and his group.”

The former chief of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) also wrote that “Section 5 of the Bill of Rights says, 'No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil and political rights.' LGBT or lesbian, gender, bisexual or transgender represents a status we need to deal with or simply accept. Like the US, we believe in the separation of the church and state.”

Remoto said they would gladly accept an apology from Ferrer for a “momentary lapse in legal judgment.”

If the petition gets junked at the commission en banc level, Remoto said his group would meet with CHR chief Leila De Lima to help them elevate the petition to the Supreme Court.

In a separate interview, Ferrer said Remoto's group “does not understand” the resolution, which was drafted with the help of the agency's legal department.

“If you resort to matters of morality, there is nothing wrong about quoting the Bible or Koran but this does not mean I am not imposing my religion. They are free to file the MR (motion for reconsideration) and even go to the Supreme Court if they think it's proper,” said Ferrer.

The articles above are the some of the articles that you might read when you google for ANG LADLAD or COMELEC. As both a Catholic and a homosexual, it was just an issue that I can't ignore.

I resent the decision of the COMELEC to reject the ANG LADLAD (our!) bid to participate in the May 2010 elections as a legitimate partylist. This is by far the highest form of sexual discrimination that I have ever seen! This is clearly a result of a very conservative and constricted view in our society. It's as if time stood still and they are left to rot in their own Jurassic period!

As pointed out by Sen. Legarda, it is enshrined in the Philippine Constitution the SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE!!! Any religious beliefs should be dealt by the Church and not by the COMELEC! One's beliefs should be separated from that of the law. Something's really a miss because even the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism Inc. (MABINI) asked the COMELEC to apologize to ANG LADLAD. We should not be prejudiced because of our sexual orientation. Even though we are individuals that chose a different lifestyle contrary to the norm, we deserve an objective resolution, we deserve an objective judgement, not backed up by some religious books because we know that it is clearly defined that religion and the law are two different things.

I was watching News last night when I heard one commissioner stating that "They are well represented in the Congress and the Senate". Danton Remoto countered the statement saying, "...he should name them..." (not the real transcript)

There are female members in the Congress and Senate. But there is Gabriela, a partylist representing women. How can a commissioner state something like we are well represented in the Houses just to support their shrewd decision when in fact, there is a partylist catering on the welfare of women? I agree with Sir Remoto, "he" should name them! Prove to us the we really are represented in both Houses! Since they don't openly state that they are LGBT, I think you're going to have a hard time proving it!

Also, kung ang mga Sabungero may partylist, bakit kami bawal? You're saying that we are threat to the youth but you have approved the application of the representation of a vice. Bisyo yan! yan ang nakakasira ng buhay ng kabataan! Hindi bat may nasabi rin sa mga libro na bawal magsugal? Anung kaibahan ng Jueteng sa Sabong? Wala! Dahil pareho lang silang sugal! Wag nyong pairalin ang sarili nyong prinsipyo sa pagpapatupad ng batas! Meron ng prinsipyong nakasulat, hindi nyo na kelangan pang idagdag ang sa inyo!