Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ang LadLad: Senate Queer Politics

It's official: Ang Ladlad, the national network of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Filipinos, has registered with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as a party-list organization, and is now in the running for a congressional seat in the 2007 elections. NOPE! Because COMELEC did not accredit "Ang Ladlad" to be one of the party list organization in the upcoming election on May 2007!

According to Chairman Benjamin Abalos, "we should take a good look. Party List Organization should really represent the mareginalized sector of the country!"

Question: Are you saying Mr. Chairman that the LGBT Community is not a marginalized sector or are you saying that we still dont exist in your eyes?

Presently with COMELEC not accrediting "Ang LadLad" for patry list. Dante Remoto, filed his Certificate of Candidacy for the Senatorial race! (Go Gurl!)

Ang Ladlad is the first political party composed of homosexuals, whose vision is to create a world where the human rights of all are respected and everyone can live peacefully, without regard for everyone’s sexual orientation and gender expression.

Ang Ladlad is a network of 150 LGBT groups all over the country. The term ladlad means to “unfurl the cape that used to cover one’s body as a shield” or to come out, in the LBGT’s case, of the closet.

The group includes members from LEAP (Lesbian Advocates Philippines), Rainbow Rights, Lumina (from Baguio), and members of lesbian and gay groups in the University of the Philippines, Polytechnic, University of the Philippines and the University of the East.

The country's gay and lesbian population, which Remoto estimates to number about 8 million, was not about to miss another chance to bring the concerns of a “marginalized sector” into the halls of Congress, in particular to “claim and reclaim” the rights lost through ages of discrimination and homophobia.

Though many might disagree with Remoto’s assertion that Philippine culture and most Filipinos are intolerant towards homosexuality, he sees it differently. In their party pamphlet, Ang Ladlad’s says “gays are often seen as comedians – not to be taken seriously. Lesbians, on the other hand, are viewed as violent, possessive and domineering. They are stereotyped and caged in roles.”

Among the cases of discrimination alluded to: the probation and expulsion for gays or young men found to be effeminate in certain schools; exorcism or religious cures so that gays can be reformed; the witting agreement of fathers to allow their lesbian daughters to be raped, also in the hopes of reform; and prejudicial murders of gay men which police refuse to acknowledge as hate crimes.

To win a seat in the Senate, Ang Ladlad’s well-thought and researched strategy consists of capturing the youth sector which, Remoto estimates is “70% of all voters.” Their studies show that of the 70%, 90% are poor (Class D and E), so the places where their target voters are include the depressed communities and beauty parlors. “We have three major hairdressing groups in the Philippines, with 90,000 members nationwide, that’s another big voter base,” says Remoto,

He says a new era in politics in the country has arrived where the old traditional rules and practices are either dead or dying, and the time is right for Ang Ladlad to stake its claim through the utilization of new technology. “This is what many old politicians don’t understand. In the last election in 2004, who were the winners? The ones who had a good reach through media, entertainment, and IT (information technology). The youth market is wired to the Internet, like three to four hours a day.” He cites the successful 2004 campaign of Senator Mar Roxas, which employed print, television and Internet awareness to propel him to the post.

“We’re running this like a marketing campaign,” he adds. “The old parties ran elections, sorry to say, based on guns, goons and gold. But that no longer works anymore. The world has shrunk into a village.”

They also plan on reaching Filipinos abroad, particularly overseas absentee voters and dual citizens, through the formation of chapters in Filipino-centric communities in Los Angeles and New York.

Ang Ladlad’s platform includes:

Support for the Anti-Discrimination Bill that gives gay and lesbian Filipinos equal rights in employment and schools;
Support for gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses;
Setting up micro-finance and livelihood projects for poor and physically challenged homosexual Filipinos;
Setting up centers for old and abandoned homosexuals;
Support for the bill repealing the Anti-Vagrancy Law, which policemen often use to extort bribes form gay men.

Though Remoto claims that his party is focused and dedicated to the LGBT cause, “like a laser beam, so we don’t dissipate our efforts or spread our energies around,” he emphasizes that Ang Ladlad is for all Filipino people. “Our advocacy is really LGBT, but it’s not just that. This country is poor, the main problem is economics. We’re earning P50 per day, so we are committed to staying here and helping. There are so many things we can do.”
As for the concerns of the overseas Filipino workers, who “single-handedly keep the economy afloat,” Remoto says, “I’ve lived and worked abroad. I know the problems of the OFW. The point is, the money that they send to the Philippines that is deposited in government agencies should be audited, and there should be an OFW bank. It’s been in the planning stages for many years. It should get done.”

He adds that the fruits of the labor of the OFW should be returned to them in the form of scholarship, micro-finance for housing and small businesses, as well as discounts in hospitals.

Regardless of sexual orientation, for Remoto and Ang Ladlad it is imperative for everyone to help the country move forward. “The young people should be given hope, otherwise let’s all migrate. But I think the better option is to stay here and do small things that help the country. Train people to change their mindset.”
You can visit "Ang Ladlad" @ www.angladlad.org

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