LADLAD party list and Comelec: Some scriptural reflections on the real meaning of discrimination

I.  Comelec, CHR, and LADLAD

A group of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBT), led by Danton Remoto, an English professor in Ateneo de Manila University, asked the Commission on Elections to approve as a Party List their group named LADLAD, a Filipino word which means “public display of homosexuality”.  The Comelec, led by the presiding commissioner Nicodemo C. Ferrer, dismissed the petition on moral grounds:

Petitioner should be denied accreditation not only for advocating immoral doctrines but likewise for not being truthful when it is said that “it or any of its party list representatives have not violated or failed to comply with laws rules and regulations relating to the elections.”

Furthermore, 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.  Lehman Strauss, a famous bible preacher and writer in the U.S.A., said in one article that “older practicing homosexuals are a threat to the youth.”  As an agency of the government, ours too is the State’s avowed duty in Sec. 13, Article II of the Constitution to protect our youth from moral and spiritual degradation.

We are not condemning the LGBT, but we cannot compromise the greater number of our people, especially the youth.

(Scrbd article.  Note page 6 is missing.  This page contains I think the Oct. 2, 2008 detailed comment of the Comelec).

The LADLAD complained that this is gender discrimination.  And the Commission on Human Rights supports their claim:

CHR said however that the poll body’s decision “smacks of prejudice and discrimination.”  “There is or can be no basis in law to deny the registration of the party, directly or indirectly, on the grounds of homosexuality, much less on homosexuality equated to immorality. To make assertions based on their homosexuality is patently discriminatory,” she said.  “Homosexuality is not a counterculture. It is part of the diversity of Philippine culture. Homosexuals are part of the Filipino family and unavoidably must be part of our politics,” CHR chair Leila De Lima was quoted in the statement as saying.  “There is no governmental policy which characterizes homosexuality as illegal nor immoral,” De Lima said. (ABS-CBN)

II.  Discrimination in Scriptures: Clean and Unclean, Holy and Profane, Good and Evil

Discrimination has been defined as something bad, so that we have now invented phrases like racial discrimination, gender discrimination, and age discrimination.  These things should not happen, modern society says.  We must not discriminate.

But let us consider the etymology of discriminate and discrimination:

Discriminate.1620s, from L. discriminare “to divide,” from discrimen, derived n. from discernere (see discern). The adverse (usually racial) sense is first recorded 1866, Amer.Eng. Positive sense remains in discriminating (adj.) “possessing discernment” (1792).

Discrimination. 1640s, “the making of distinctions,” from L. discriminationem, noun of action from discriminare (see discriminate). Especially in a prejudicial way, based on race, 1866, Amer.Eng. Meaning “discernment” is from 1814.

To discriminate is to divide, to make distinctions, to discern.  If you read the book of Genesis, you will see that God is discriminating: God placed order in chaos by separating light from darkness, day and night, heaven and sea, sea and land, animals and fishes, plants and birds, male and female.  Creation can never be accomplished without discrimination.  And God said that it is good.

If you read the book of Exodus and Leviticus, you will see that God gave a precise rules for determining whether something is clean or unclean.  Thus Israelites have all these rules regarding water potability (don’t drink a cup of water if an insect falls on it), food (carnivores and and non-fishes cannot be eaten), leprosy (suspected lepers are quarantined), etc.

Why all these rules for clean and unclean?  Moses said to Aaron:

You must be able to distinguish between what is sacred and what is profane, between what is clean and what is unclean; you must teach the Israelites all the laws that the LORD has given them through Moses. (Lv 10:10-11)

Thus, the laws to distinguish clean and clean are laid out as a pedagogical tool to help the Israelites to know what is sacred and profane.  If you are a teacher, you will first teach students the arithmetic rules like 2 apples + 3 apples = 5 apples before you teach them the algebraic rules of 2x + 3x = 5x.  You first start with something concrete, then you go to something abstract.  Since God is a good teacher, he first teaches Israelites clean and unclean things and actions, then He teaches them why Israel is a holy nation and not like the other nations, why the priest is holier than the levites, why the Bread of the Presence and the Ark of the Covenant are holy, etc.  Material to Spiritual.  This is the divine pedagogy.

After teaching the distinction between clean and unclean, holy and profane, Moses commanded Aaron to teach all the laws that God has given them through Moses.  This is the third step: moral.  What is good?  What is evil?  These questions are answered by the Ten Commandments.

The sixth and ninth commandments are “Though shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.”  On these two laws we can group all the sexual sins and among them are on homosexuality:

You shall not have carnal relations with your neighbor’s wife, defiling yourself with her. You shall not offer any of your offspring to be immolated to Molech, thus profaning the name of your God. I am the LORD. You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination. You shall not have carnal relations with an animal, defiling yourself with it; nor shall a woman set herself in front of an animal to mate with it; such things are abhorrent. (Lv 18:20-23)

Notice that adultery, abortion, homosexuality, and bestiality are enumerated together. Adultery and abortion are the ones that will result if the Reproductive Health Bill pushes through; homosexuality if LADLAD becomes a Party List; and bestiality will not be far behind.

And God said:

Do not defile yourselves by any of these things by which the nations whom I am driving out of your way have defiled themselves. Because their land has become defiled, I am punishing it for its wickedness, by making it vomit out its inhabitants. You, however, whether natives or resident aliens, must keep my statutes and decrees forbidding all such abominations by which the previous inhabitants defiled the land; otherwise the land will vomit you out also for having defiled it, just as it vomited out the nations before you. Everyone who does any of these abominations shall be cut off from among his people. Heed my charge, then, not to defile yourselves by observing the abominable customs that have been observed before you. I, the LORD, am your God. (Lv 18:24-30)

If Filipinos do not wish to vomited out of the land called the Philippines, God says that we must never do these abominations.  God is faithful to his promises.  Let us reject the Reproductive Health Bill and not allow LADLAD as a Party List.

So is the Comelec discriminating towards lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders (LGBT) in LADLAD?  Yes, Comelec is indeed discriminating, because God Himself is discriminating.  We must purge the evil in our midst.

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About Quirino M. Sugon Jr
Theoretical Physicist in Manila Observatory

16 Responses to LADLAD party list and Comelec: Some scriptural reflections on the real meaning of discrimination

  1. Vince says:

    But the Philippines is a secular state consisting of citizens that are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, or even atheist.

    There’s nothing wrong if the Catholic Church discriminates against practicing gay men and prevents them from becoming priests, to give an example. But there is something wrong if the COMELEC discriminates on religious grounds because the Philippine Government is a secular institution.

  2. Well said Mr. Quirino. I stand with your opinion because that’s is what the Church teaches.
    God bless.

  3. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Vince,

    What does our constitution’s preamble say?

    “We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good…”

    This is an explicit acceptance by the framers of our Constitution that the creation of the Philippine State is founded on the belief on Almighty God. More than 90% of Filipinos are Christians, and majority of them are Catholics, so there is no doubt that the God referred to here are not those of Atheists (because they don’t believe in God), Buddhists, or Hindus. The God here is the God of Abraham which is shared by Christians, Muslims, and Jews. And these three religions condemn homosexual acts as sinful. Accepting LADLAD in the party list system cannot therefore be for the common good.

  4. Vince says:

    Since you’re quoting the Constitution, let me quote as well:

    Section 5 of the Bill of Rights says:

    “Section 5. No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.

    While the framers of the constitution invoked the Abrahamic God (and only twice, I might add), it does not mean that only Christians, Muslims, Jews are the only ones who have rights as Filipino citizens.

    Again, the Philippines is a secular state and the COMELEC invoking religion to discriminate against those who have differing beliefs is plainly wrong.

  5. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Vince,

    Section 5 only means that the State will not establish an official religion as an Anglican Church is to England and Islam is to Saudi Arabia. Catholicism is not a state religion in the Philippines because the government does not pay the salaries of priests and bishops. It is true that no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil and political rights, but these rights are not absolute. For example, you cannot form a political party that seeks to overthrow the government. “No religious test” simply means that you will not be asked what religious sect you belong in order to exercise your civil and political rights: Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims can form a political party.

    Morality is a different thing: it does not belong to “religious test”. Moral laws can be known by man because God has implanted in his heart the duty to do good and reject evil. This is the natural law. When God finally reveals himself, these laws are affirmed and clarified. Not all ideas are of equal value: some are good, some are bad, some are better, some are worse. To equate all ideas in the same scale is not just: you cannot equate the wisdom of an old man in questions about life to that of a five year old kid. In same way, you cannot equate the wisdom of the Catholic Church who has lived for two thousand years, who has seen empires come and go, who has seen the ends of human folly and wisdom, to that of a group of men born yesterday thinking they know everything, that they can see all ends, that they are wiser than their predecessors, that they are better judges of the human heart, that they can define for themselves without the guidance of God what is good and what is evil. This is the very temptation of the Serpent to our first parents Adam and Eve: “you shall be like gods, knowing good and evil” (Gn 3:5).

  6. Vince says:

    Since you admit that there is no state religion in the Philippines, then you must agree that the COMELEC erred in citing the Bible and the Koran in a legal document. They should be citing other legal documents, not religious texts.

    And your example of forming a party to overthrow the government is a straw man argument. That action is illegal and unconstitutional. But being gay and forming gay relationships or even simply pushing for less discrimination against gay people is not illegal and not unconstitutional. It may be considered immoral in Catholicism and Islam, but the non-use of religious tests in the Bill of Rights means that the Philippine Government cannot decide that homosexual behavior is immoral just because some religion says so.

    The logic behind your second part regarding “God has implanted in his heart” is still a religious logic since there are Filipinos who believe that there is no God (atheists) and Filipinos who believe in many Gods (Hindus). Just because they don’t believe in the God of Abraham doesn’t make then “immoral”. Forms of morality cannot be divorced from a particular religion. According to Muslims and Hindus, eating pork is an abomination. Should we then say that Lydia’s Lechon and the whole pork industry is immoral?

    Sure we can all agree that murder is immoral. But being gay? I don’t think so.

    By the way, try not to insert Catholic doctrines into the discussion since we are not discussing whether Ang Ladlad is acceptable to the Catholic Church or not. We are talking about whether the COMELEC is right or wrong in dismissing the accreditation of And Ladlad as a party list.

  7. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Vince,

    Since Philippines is not a Catholic State, does it immediately follow that it is a godless state? What you want to do is to put God away from the picture, but this is not what the framers of our Constitution intends to be. If we implore the aid of Almighty God in building our society, as the Constitution says, should we then disregard what God has revealed to us through the Holy Scriptures? The phrase Almighty God is distinctively Christian not Hindu nor Muslim, for the simple reason that more than 90% of our population is Christian. Because of the majority of our population is Catholic, you can be assured that Hindus and Muslims are respected. We are forbidden to kill Hindus simply because they are Hindus, unlike in some parts of India where Hindus kill Christians because they are Christians. The same is true for the Muslims: Muslims threaten Christian communities in Lebanon to convert or leave. Those who refuse to leave are taxed according to Shariah law. But we Catholics in the Philippines do not do this to our Muslim and Hindu brothers. We respect them, but this does not mean we don’t share to them the Good News of Christ. Christian charity demands that we share the whole truth about man and God. We respect them, but this does not mean we allow them to change our way of life as Christians by changing the laws of the State. This would not be just.

    In a similar way, Vince, the fact that majority of our population is Catholic, homosexuals can be assured that they are respected as persons, unlike in Islam countries where they can be beheaded. Homosexuals are better off in Catholic Philippines. But respect for the person does not mean we close our eyes to the evils of the homosexual acts and that we allow homosexuals to redefine marriage as was done in US and in Europe. We preach the Good News of Christ to homosexuals but we don’t kill them. We pray for their conversion. Homosexual tendencies are the cross of persons who have them. But Catholics with homosexual tendencies are still called to holiness, to be chaste, just like everyone else. The strength of a man is measured not by his bodily strength but by the force of his will: he can control his passions, choose good, and reject evil. By our own power we cannot do this, but if we implore the help of the Almightly God, He would be happy to give us all the graces that we need. Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened to you.

  8. A Catholic says:

    Christian charity does not demand anything of anyone, except to love unconditionally as Jesus did. True Christians live lives based on love and acceptance.

    If the homosexuals of the country want to be represented at Congress, let them be given the chance. How can we show homosexuals the respect that you claim we have for them if at any moment that they want to be heard, we stop them at the gates? How can we preach the Good News of Christ to homosexuals and have them listen to us, if we send them the message that we do not want them to be heard?

    We claim that we are loving and respectful. It is high time that our actions reflect this.

  9. Vince says:

    Yes, I’m saying that we put God out of the picture. The picture being the accreditation of And Ladlad as a party list because the party list system is not a Catholic system but a Philippine system. And yes, a state with has no official religion is by definition a godless state. It’s simple logic. Take note that this does not mean that the citizens of that state are godless.

    Just because majority of the population is Catholic doesn’t mean that the Catholic teachings immediately dictate the political processes of a secular state. You say, “We respect them, but this does not mean we allow them to change our way of life as Christians by changing the laws of the State. This would not be just.” Well, Catholic practices, traditions, and catechism and secular laws are two distinct things. You are conflating the two.

    Granting accreditation to Ang Ladlad should not in any way affect Catholic catechism or Christian practices and traditions. Take note that Catholics are free not to vote for Ang Ladlad (if ever they are accredited) in the elections. Again, it doesn’t matter if gays are respected or called to holiness by the Catholic population. It is immaterial to the question of whether Ang Ladlad should be accredited as a party list organization or not.

    We are straying too far off-topic (the topic being Ang Ladlad’s accreditation) by bringing up the broader role of the Church vs. the state and by your mention of gay marriage. I have personal opinions regarding gay marriage but I won’t mention them anymore since it is off-topic.

  10. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Vince,

    You cannot put God out of the picture because the Preamble states that we implore the help of the Almighty God in building the Philippine State. The 1987 Constitution was born after the whole world witnessed the divine intervention in EDSA–the Epiphany of the Saints. If you are going to interpret the whole of the constitution, you have to interpret it in the Spirit that it was written, and that is described in the Preamble. Therefore, what is morally wrong (homosexual acts) as revealed by God should never be a human right. It is in this spirit that COMELEC has ruled against LADLAD as a party list.

    The only hope of LADLAD is constitutional change that puts God out of the constitution. But we in the Church Militant shall make sure that God remains there. We shall not back down in this culture war.

  11. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    A Catholic,

    Charity without Truth is subjectivism, as Pope Benedict XVI said in his encyclical Veritate in Caritate. Since you call yourself a Catholic, these are the truths about homosexuality as taught by the Catholic Church:

    “2357. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

    “2358. The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

    “2359. Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

    Christ also accepted the woman caught in adultery. But did he say to her that “I accept you as you are. Commit adultery as you have done in the past. My love for you is unconditional”? No. Christ said: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more” (Jn 8:11).

  12. A Catholic says:

    Mr. Quirino,

    I am not saying that you embrace the homosexuals and accept them wholeheartedly. I am not trying to change your mind or your views about homosexuality. I admire and accept how steadfast you are to the teachings of the Church and the universality of the truths the Church professes. What I am just pointing out is that rejecting the Ladlad party list is tantamount to showing our fellow citizens disrespect, precisely, lack of love. If they want to listen to us, then we should also allow them to be heard. You cannot communicate the truth to people by showing them that you do not respect them.

    Further, the decision of Comelec is against the Universal Declaration of Basic Human Rights. It is basic injustice. It is against what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in the encyclical you cited when he wrote “If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them.” (but this is another line of discussion).

    As the preamble itself says, we are supposed to be under a regime of “freedom, love, equality, and peace.” Among all the countries in the world, only the Philippine constitution has the word “love” in it. This says a lot about how we as a society should live.

    I guess we will never agree on this issue because we operate under different mindsets. You see the Comelec decision as purging the evil and an act of a discriminating God through an agent in Philippine government called the Comelec. My view of the Comelec decision is that it violates the teachings of God on love, acceptance, and respect for other human beings.

  13. Vince says:

    Wow. Just Wow.

    You base your whole argument on that single instance of “Almighty God” in the preamble when there are more explicit (and legally binding) references to religious diversity, tolerance, secularism, and differences of faith in the Constitution. I implore you to be open-minded. In the same way that devout Catholics should refrain from “cafeteria Catholicism” where a person selects only those Catholic practices that suits them, so should you refrain from selectively parts of the Constitution that suits you when there are explicit references to secularism in the Constitution:

    Article II (Declaration of Principles), Section 6: “The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable.”

    Article III (Bill of Rights), Section 5: “No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights.”

    No charter change is needed to show that your opposition to Ang Ladlad’s accreditation as a party-list is illogical, illegal, and immaterial. Sure, oppose on Catholic grounds, but don’t ever oppose on Constitutional grounds. The preamble is just a preamble and it is not legally binding.

  14. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    A Catholic,

    It is possible to respect the person, but condemn his ideas as wrong. To love is to will the good of the other. The ultimate good is the salvation of one’s soul. If certain ideas imperil the salvation of souls, these ideas must be condemned.

    God’s rights come before human rights. The Golden Rule “Do to others as you want others to do unto you” (c.f. Lk 6:31) is incomplete by itself: a masochist will inflict pain on you because he wants you to inflict pain on him. But this is the ultimate law of love as taught by Christ: “Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). Christ, the God-Man, is the ultimate measure of love.

    I am glad that you recognize that we can never agree on this issue. But if you are a faithful Catholic, you will listen to the Catholic Church as our Mother and Teacher. If you listen to Christ, then you must listen to the Church founded by Christ. Christ said:

    “If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 18:17-18)

    No other institution on earth, not even the United Nations, has this divine guarantee of infallibility in matters of faith and morals.

  15. Quirino M. Sugon Jr says:

    Vince,

    We have opposite views regarding the Preamble. For you, the Preamble is just one of the paragraphs in the Constitution. For me, the Preamble is the key to understanding the whole Constitution. There is a difference between choosing only those parts of the Constitution which suits our fancy and choosing those parts which are the essence of the whole.

    Jesus was asked which of the commandments of Moses was the greatest. And Christ replied.

    “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Mt 22:37-40)

    In a similar way, if you ask me which of the paragraphs of the Constitution are the greatest, I would say that it is the Preamble: the whole Constitution rests on the Preamble. If you further ask me what part of the Preamble is the greatest, I would say the following:

    ““We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations.”

    The Philippine government is established in order to embody our love for God (because we implore His aid) and our love for our neighbor (because we want to build a just and humane society).

    We can now agree that we disagree on this fundamental point. As I see it, we have already presented all our arguments. It is now left for the readers to weigh the arguments on their own and decide for themselves.

    Best wishes,

    Quirino

  16. aireen says:

    aireen she is †™LAD†LAD™†

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