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Pilipinas, Gay Ka Na Ba?

lifted from Bakla Ako, May Reklamo? (I'm Gay, Got a Problem With That?)

In a column titled Gay Philippines on the Philippine Daily Inquirer (First Posted 06:45:00 09/29/2008), Pompeyo Pedroche, wrote his reaction to a Youngblood Article of Renee Julienne Karunungan of UPLB. I'm not sure how to react to this column article but here are some points that I'd like to clarify with Mr. Pedroche.

On Renee's "outcry" in her article that gays "suffer discrimination... are looked down upon, that obstacles are thrown at them... aren't fully accepted, are seen as immoral, are bashed and treated as freaks," Pedroche says

that he's sure that it was not the Catholic Church that taught Renee that homosexuality is evil.

I agree with Mr. Pedroche that such an idea is "preposterous and ghastly" but I disagree with him when he says that it definitely was not the Catholic Church that put that idea into Renee's head. Like many others out there, I grew up in a family who followed the Catholic doctrines and tenets strictly. I was not out as a young man, but it was actually the Church that prevented me from coming out. In Cathechism classes and from numerous sermons from priests, it was imbibed in me that homosexuality is indeed evil.

Pedroche asks: "Now, in Catholic Philippines, does our society really discriminate against other religions, or against gays for that matter, as writer Renee contends?"

In more ways than one, yes! Tolerance, sir, is completely different from acceptance. And just because the society is tolerant of homosexuals, it does not mean that there is absolutely no discrimination against homosexuals in this land. While gay men can "attend Sunday masses, take holy communion, can even get married by a priest or a minister (?)" it is not tantamount to saying that there is no discrimination. And as Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales said in an interview with the church-run Radio Veritas: “I am not angry at gay men. But I’m against what they’re actually doing.” What Rosales means by "what they're actually doing," is beyond me.

Pedroche adds: they (gay men) "can hold their own fashion show, they have their own dance and singing groups, they have their Ladlad voice in Congress, and have already created their own gay lingo. So, what discrimination, bashing and obstacles is Renee crying about?"

Might I remind you, Mr. Pedroche, that the items you enumerated are but mere hasty generalizations. Do you think these are the only issues that gay men (and women) here in the Philippines are concerned about? Ask any gay guy and I'm sure you'll get answers which are completely wayward from your list. Also, if you have not been paying attention to the news in the recent years, Ang Ladlad has no voice in Congress (yet) as the party's bid for a seat in the last elections was curtailed because the COMELEC deemed it ineligible. So where is this voice coming from? Do we have someone in Congress singing and dancing for the gay men and women? I don't think so.

What discrimination, bashing and obstacles are we crying about? Let me enumerate a few. Our transgender sisters are continuously being discriminated against in several establishments, students in some schools being asked to sign a pink slip as a "contract" that they will not act effeminately in school, some offices continue to disallow cross-dressing, effeminate young boys being bullied and laughed at in school and their neighborhoods, the Church blaming the Cebu Canister Scandal on the victim's sexuality — these are just some of the issues we're facing. If you want a detailed list, look below:

From: 10 Things You Need to Know About The Anti-Discrimination Bill

Equal rights, not special rights. The bill does not grant additional or special rights to LGBTs. What it does is criminalize violations to the human rights and freedoms on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill affirms and promotes human rights and freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution.

Equality in schools. The bill prohibits discrimination against LGBT students, which usually takes place through unfair admission policies, unjust expulsion, and unreasonable disciplinary actions.

Equal opportunities in employment
. By criminalizing unfair labor practices and policies on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, the bill promotes decent jobs for LGBT workers.

Removing stigma in healthcare. The bill bans hospitals, clinics, and medical personnel like doctors and nurses from discriminating against or abusing LGBT patients.

Fighting police abuse. Stiffer penalties are imposed on law enforcers who abuse the law – from bagansya to the anti-trafficking law - to harass, torture, or extort money from LGBTs.

Organizing for LGBT pride.
The bill affirms the freedom of assembly and association by disallowing discrimination in the establishment of LGBT groups in schools, workplace, communities and in politics.

Equal access to establishments.
The bill ensures that establishments that are open to the public like malls, restaurants, and bars, among others, are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Gays and lesbians in the police and military. The police and military are barred from screening out competent LGBTs who want to join the force. Under the bill, they are also not allowed to remove LGBT policeman or woman and soldiers due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Penalizing discrimination.
Under the bill, a person found guilty of discriminating against LGBTs can be fined up to P500,000 and/or imprisoned for a maximum of six years. S/he may also be required to undergo human rights education.

About non-discrimination, not same-sex marriage.
Homophobic groups wrongfully claim that the bill is about same-sex marriage. Here’s the truth: 1.) the legal recognition of same-sex marriage requires a separate bill, and; 2.) there is absolutely nothing wrong about consensual same-sex relationships.

Pedroche further says:

Such gay passion to be different and spectacular is one reason why the masses hardly “see them as their equal.” Gays refuse to swim with the tide. They want to float.

I think Mr. Pedroche needs to be careful with the words he chooses to use. The statement above, which he alludes to gays wanting their own Santacruzan, is totally unfair. Although it is the Church's discretion to disallow a separate Santacruzan for gay men, it still is not just about Santacruzan (like I said in May of this year). It is about the double standards:

It is a known fact that many gay men are members of the Roman Catholic Church, and many of them are active in church-related activities too. You can see them in choirs, charismatic renewal movements, church beautification committees, etc. There isn’t any downright discrimination, because from a utilitarian point of view, these gay men are important to the church. The Vatican is still against homosexuality (some say the church is not against homosexuality, just homosexual acts), and homosexuals are doomed to go to hell if they don’t go straight.

If the church does not consider these biased statements and repulsive acts as discriminatory, I wonder what discrimination is. (from It's Not Just About Santacruzan)

Might I also remind Mr. Pedroche that the number of successful gay men in their own professions and "decent professional fields" does not also mean that gay men are not bashed and looked down upon. I can just imagine the discrimination these gay men and women, who have achieved such success in their careers, experienced before they achieved such success. These gay men and women did not become successful because of their sexuality, they became successful because of their strengths, skills and knowledge. Let's give credit to where it is due, Mr. Pedroche.

Pedroche says that the Philippine media would be boring and black and white if there were no gay men there:

And what is Philippine media, especially television, without gays? It will be empty, boring and in black and white. Boy Abunda and John Lapus, despite their different academic backgrounds, orientations, and talking decibels, are two equally successful gay hosts who have a huge following on TV. Even the most popular Willie (of “Wowowee”) proudly enjoys acting gay occasionally, and his nemesis Joey de Leon (with Anjo Yllana and Janno Gibbs), not to mention Joey’s son, Kimpee—in “Nuts Entertainment,” the trio not only act gay but even chat and dress gay. Interestingly, how do Renee and other concerned gay leaders feel whenever other people mimic gays on television? Insulted or flattered? Ashamed or proud? Pushed or embraced? Maybe, gays of Renee’s anti-Church convictions are barking up the wrong tree. Instead, let the public hear from the leaders of our gay society on this issue of gay mimicry or gimmickry on television. That will shed light on this gay issue from a wider perspective.

To answer your question, Mr. Pedroche, we are insulted, ashamed, and feel discriminated against. You do not need the "concerned gay leaders" to answer your question. When homosexuals are being made fun of on television and radio, we feel insulted. We feel bad. We feel hurt. We feel discriminated against.

Pedroche adds:

No doubt about it—gays came, saw and conquered.

It may seem that way, but it is not a complete truth. We can only say that we have conquered if we our fight (for EQUAL rights and not SPECIAL rights) is won. The battle is not yet over. We may be making a difference in people's lives, but when will society, when will the government and the church, and when will uninformed people like you make a difference in ours?

Pedroche closes with:

Meanwhile, let us look at ourselves in the mirror and ask, “Pilipinas, Gay Ka Na Ba?” Let the reader answer that.

Not yet. For now, we cannot say that Pilipinas is Gay Na, and we cannot agree with you just yet, Mr. Pedroche. I read your article on the Philippine Daily Inquirer and all I can say is, "No Deal!"

Ten Things You Need To Know About The Anti-Discrimination Bill


Gayzha said…
Clearly, Mr Pedroche, who I presume is not gay (is he?), has not experienced any of these existing discrimination.

Even in countries where legal rights and laws are in placed, LGBT people, are still fighting for equality and protection.

Still a long long way to go, unfortunately!
Anonymous said…
I swear, andami talagang nag-react sa artikol na 'yan. Napaka-naive ng nagsulat.

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