Philippine LGBT rights activists to Catholic prelates: Be compassionate

The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay) called on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to stop issuing what it describes as “poisoned” and “misguided” information regarding anti-discrimination proposals pending in Congress.

The CBCP announced its opposition to Senate Bill (SB) 2814 or the Anti-Ethnic, Racial or Religious Discrimination and Profiling Act of 2011, saying the possible enactment of the bill into law “would open the door for the legalization of same sex marriages” in the country.

For his part, Senator Gringo Honasan, said in an interview with Sun.Star said that it is “too premature to make an intelligent conclusion” if the passage of the aforementioned bill would indeed lead to same sex marriages in the Philippines. Honasan, who is eligible to seek reelection in the 2013 senatorial polls, is part of the bi-cameral conference committee working on the bill.

ProGay Philippines to CBCP: Be compassionate!

ProGay spokesperson Goya Candelario, for his part, maintained that his group support bills that would protect human rights based on sex, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. “(We support the bill) because it protects all Filipino citizens, especially the oppressed Filipino women who suffer from workplace and family-based discrimination,” he said.

In a news conference, Jo Imbong, CBCP lawyer and defeated 2010 senatorial candidate pointed out that Filipino lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders (LGBTs) “should not be protected from discrimination” because they had the power to choose their sexual orientation.

“It really pains to hear those words coming from a supposed Christian. Imbong is so blind and unfeeling that she does not know that discrimination forces LGBTs in the slums to take on dirty, low-paid dangerous work like prostitution,” Candelario said. Candelario said sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) are not a personal choice that can be turned on and off at a whim.

“SOGI is an integral part of who we are from birth, even for heterosexuals who did not choose to be heterosexuals at birth. However, Christians can choose from hundreds of religions they want to be baptized in later in life, and they demand legal protections of religious freedom,” he said. The ProGay leader also pleaded for progressive priests, bishops, and nuns to come out in defense of LGBT rights and to not let their rabid factions dominate the Church.

In a statement, ProGay Philippines reiterated said that no provision in SB 2814 would force priests to bless same sex marriages on the pain of jail terms and fines. ProGay human rights officer Oscar Atadero said that the House version HB 1483 filed by Rep. Teddy Casino is a preferred version by the gay community, but he said the group hopes that a compromise version would protect LGBTs with sufficient protections to guard against violence, homophobia, and discrimination that Filipino gays suffer in schools, workplace, and government services.

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