LGBT group thanks SC on first birthday


HOLDING thank you cards and pink balloons, members of Ang Ladlad marched towards the Supreme Court (SC) Friday to thank the 13 magistrates who voted to accredit the group to run for party list in the 2010 elections.

Ang Ladlad is a group of of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) Filipinos.

In the cards given to the 13 justices, Chairperson Bemz Benedito wrote, “We thank you for applying the constitution of laws, unprejudiced by public opinion, and confident in the knowledge that our democracy is resilient enough to withstand vigorous debate.”

A month before the elections last year, the SC released a decision nullifying the November 2009 Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution denying the group’s accreditation as a partylist.

The group had failed to get a Comelec accreditation on the grounds that it “tolerates immorality which offends religious beliefs.” The resolution also quoted both the Bible and Koran to point out that Ang Ladlad subjects young people to “an environment that does not conform to the teachings of our faith.”

The SC ruling was 13-2 in favor of Ang Ladlad. The 13 magistrates who voted in their favor were Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Senior Justice Antonio Carpio, and Associate Justices Mariano del Castillo, Conchita Carpio-Morales, Presbitero Velasco Jr., Antonio Eduardo Nachura, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Martin Villarama Jr., Jose Perez, Roberto Abad, and Jose Mendoza.

Although the group was not allowed to enter the SC premises to personally hand over the thank you cards, security personnel who received them assured Ang Ladlad that the cards will reach the 13 magistrates.

When asked about the controversial issue on the ruling of Ang Ladlad’s case because of the alleged plagiarism of Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, And Ladlad Trustee Angie Lumbac stated that the alleged plagiarized portions had no bearing on the case of the Ang Ladlad.

An end to discrimination

At the SC gates, pink balloons were released in front of the SC to signify the liberation of the LGBT community from societal discrimination. Inscribed on each pink balloon were the lines, “Happy Birthday Ladlad. Salamat sa dignidad, Supreme Court.”

From SC, the group proceeded to Plaza Salamanca in T.M. Kalaw Avenue where they convened for a peaceful rally. Members of the Filipino Freethinkers were also present to show their support for the LGBT community.

The celebration of Ang Ladlad’s first year was also an opportunity for the group to denounce the “assailment of transsexual women” with Benedito bearing witness to such actions of discrimination and “transphobia” in a spa located in Quezon City.

According to Benedito, the partylist is taking the necessary legal actions against the said establishment to put a stop to such discrimination.

Ang Ladlad has also recently come to the defense of University of the Philippines student Hender Gercio, a transsexual student who complained against a French Professor Dominique del Corro for allegedly acting with religious prejudice towards her.

Gearing up for 2013

Regardless of being unsuccessful from securing a party list seat, Ang Ladlad, which was only given three weeks to campaign still garnered a total of 120,000 votes, 30,000 votes shy of a seat in congress.

Ang Ladlad remains optimistic that they would be able to secure a party-list seat in the 2013 elections.

With 50,000 signed members to date and with the support of the likes of Boy Abunda, official Senior Party Adviser, the group is convinced that victory on the 2013 elections is not impossible.

“Do or die sa amin ang 2013 Elections, kasi kapag natalo kami ulit, mawawalan kami ulit ng accreditation at magsisimula kami ulit from scratch,” Benedito said.

Ang Ladlad partylist chairperson Bemz Benedito is confident that they will win a seat in the 2013 congressional elections.

For the next election year, the group’s political agenda will be  “Isa Para sa Sampu sa 2013,”  a challenge to every Filipino LGBT and their heterosexual supporters, to bring ten people each and sign a membership for Ladlad.

Panahon na para magkaisa tayong lahat. Ang Ladlad ay binuo upang sila ay may sandigan sa panahon na may idudulog sa partido,” Benedito said.

The LGBT group has five platforms that include support of the anti-discrimination bill, support LGBT-related and LGBT-friendly business, setting up of centers for old and abandoned LGBTs and support of the bill repealing the Anti-Vagrancy Law.

According to its website, the group’s name comes from “magladlad” that means “to come out of the closet, to assert one’s human rights as equal to that of the next Filipino. Thus, it means to take one’s place in the sun, with dignity intact.” – with reports from Artha Kira Paredes

(The author is a journalism student of the University of  Sto. Tomas writing for VERA Files as part of the summer internship.)