April 25, 2010

Poet Danton Remoto has all the reason to be happy and gay this coming elections. His Ang Ladlad party was recently accorded accreditation through a Supreme Court ruling (Ang Ladlad v. Comelec, April 8, 2010).

Ang Ladlad, a group representing gays, lesbians and transexuals was earlier denied accreditation by the Comelec due to lack of membership and on the ground of immorality. In its resolution, the Comelec even quoted the Bible and the Koran. It also related homosexuality as an immoral doctrine penalized under Art. 201 of the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines. Also, it asserted that the petitioner was not able to prove that their interest is also the nation’s. The Comelec contends that there is no substantial differentiation, being that members of Ang Ladlad remain as male or female protected by the same Bill of Rights.

For its part, the Ang Ladlad argued that the resolution violated the constitutional guarantees against the establishment of religion. They said that the resolution contravened constitutional rights to privacy, freedom of speech and assembly, and the equal protection clause. They also said that there is no basis for the allegations of immorality. And that the party has special interests and concerns which should have been recognized by the Comelec as a separate classification.

Looking at it, the issues of the case are as follows: 1. Whether or not the Comelec can use the Bible or the Koran in determining the validity of And Ladlad’s cause, 2. Whether or not homosexuality per se amounts to immoral doctrine penalized under Art. 201 of the RPC, and 3. Whether or not the party has special interests and concerns enough to merit separate classification.

The High Court ruled  that Ang Ladlad may be given accreditation even if their sector is not specifically enumerated in the constitution and RA 7941. The crucial element is not whether a sector is specifically enumerated, but whether a particular organization complies with the requirements of the constitution and RA 7941.

The Court also ruled that  our non-establishment clause ( Art. 3 Sec. 5 1987 Constitution) calls for “government neutrality in religious matters.” Clearly, “government reliance on religious justification is inconsistent with this policy of neutrality.” They found that it was a grave violation of the non-establishment clause for the Comelec to use the Bible and the Koran to justify exclusion of Ang Ladlad.

The  Court also saw it fit to point out that we do not criminalize homosexual conduct under our jurisdiction. Evidently, the “generally accepted public morals” have not been convincingly transplanted into the realm of law. Also, the resolutions have not identified  any specific overt immoral act performed by Ang Ladlad. A violation of Art. 201 RPC requires proof beyond reasonable doubt to support a criminal conviction. A mere allegation of violation of laws is not proof, and a mere blanket invocation of public morals cannot replace the institution of civil or criminal proceedings and a judicial determination of liability or culpability.

The Court also found that Ang Ladlad has the same interest in participating in the party-list system on the same basis as other political parties similarly situated. Homosexuals must not be singled out as a separate class meriting special or differentiated treatment for there is no sufficient evidence to this effect.

For me, this is more of a landmark case worthy of perusal by the electorate and by any election law enthusiast. So there, Ang Ladlad gets a shot for Congress. Good luck to Dr. Danton Remoto, a fellow Bicolano writer.


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