Candidates seek support of Ang Ladlad

- Jerry Botial -

MANILA, Philippines - Senatorial bets Joey de Venecia III of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and Adel Tamano of the Nacionalista Party came uninvited to a national convention of the gay organization Ang Ladlad to show solidarity and get its support for the May elections.

De Venecia and Tamano said they came to declare solidarity with the lesbians, gays bisexuals, and transgenders or the LGBT community in its fight against discrimination.

The partylist group, which boasts of 125,000 “official card-carrying” members nationwide, held its national convention at the University Hotel at the UP Diliman campus in Quezon City yesterday.

“I am here today because I am one with you in your struggle against any and all forms of discrimination. I am here today because I want to continue my father’s commitment to support the Anti Discrimination Bill, a commitment he made in 1998 when he ran for president,” said the son and namesake of the former speaker, who was in a green shirt.

“I consider this my political ‘coming out’ so that I may henceforth openly and publicly partner with Ang Ladlad as it struggles to give the LGBT community its political voice. Ituring nyo na po ako na kasama ninyo (count me as one of you),” De Venecia said.

De Venecia said he is not seeking Ladlad’s support just because it is politically convenient.

“There are people who did not want me to come here for fear that I might risk alienating some sectors. Well, that is a risk worth taking - not too different from the one I took when I went to the Senate to blow the whistle on the corrupt P16-billion NBN-ZTE deal,” De Venecia said to the crowd’s applause.

De Venecia also said he would push for making discrimination a criminal offense.

Late last year, De Venecia publicly voiced his support for Ang Ladlad following the rejection of the group’s bid for accreditation by the Commission on Elections’ second division on the grounds of immorality.

Ang Ladlad is led by gay rights activist and The STAR columnist Danton Remoto.

De Venecia noted “with some welcome irony” that the attempt to disqualify Ang Ladlad “actually strengthened the very case for its accreditation.”

“I think we have no right to claim that we are in a democratic government if discrimination is so rampant,” De Venecia said in Filipino.

“Of course ending discrimination does not only involve criminalizing it. We must also remove laws that historically have been used to oppress members of the LGBT community,” he said.

De Venecia said one such discriminatory measure is the Anti Vagrancy Law that corrupt policemen conveniently use to extort money from gays and bisexuals.

‘That the police should even have this power in the first place bothers me,” he said.

“At any rate, we all know that this law is a total failure and that it has only been selectively implemented,” he said.

“Government must invest in affirmative programs that address the obvious vulnerabilities of members of the LGBT community,” he said.

De Venecia also proposed the establishment of a government facility that would provide shelter, medical and emotional care to aged and abandoned members of the LGBT community.

He also promised to initiate “programs that aim to provide health information and counseling to young lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders.”

“That they are subject to greater emotional, psychological and cultural stress than straight people is again too obvious to even discuss,” he said. He also pushed for the setting up of micro-finance and livelihood projects for poor and handicapped LGBT Filipinos.

“This is not just good social policy. This is sound economic policy,” he said.

He said LGBT Filipinos are hardworking and highly productive and are often the ones shouldering responsibilities that “straight” family members are unwilling or incapable of assuming.

He also said he would provide capital and training to LGBTs so that they could start their own small businesses and contribute to their families and to the economy in general.

He said businesses related to computers and Internet technology would greatly benefit the LGBTs. “I will never tire in saying that IT is the great equalizer,” De Venecia said.

“Our leaders have in fact acknowledged the economic contribution of LGBT Filipinos to the economy, some more enthusiastically than others. I now challenge them to put their money where their mouths are,” he said.

For his part, Tamano said that being a Muslim he knows the discrimination LGBTs bear.

“I am a Muslim and in the minority. I am also discriminated against. I know where you are coming from,” he said.

He said his own campaign manager had dissuaded him from attending the Ang Ladlad national convention for fear of offending many church groups. “Others said baka ako mahawa (I might catch it). But I really believe in this. This is also my coming out party,” he told the crowd.

On the question of immorality, Tamano twitted members of Congress.

“If being bading (gay) is immoral, over half of Congress is immoral. It doesn’t matter that one is bading. What matters is that he is good,” he said.

Tamano added that as a lawyer he is fully for the equal protection of the law. “And this applies to all of us,” he said.

“Our dream is a common dream. I look forward to the time when Ang Ladlad will no longer be needed because there is no more discrimination. We are not yet there at this level. We will help you.

Kahit di kami bading (Even if we are not gay), we understand your concerns,” Tamano said.

vuukle comment









  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with