Another front has been opened in the culture wars as debate about the Anti-Discrimination bill goes into full swing.
The bill, authored by Sen. Loren Legarda, was originally known as the “Anti-Ethnic, Racial or Religious Discrimination and Profiling Act of 2011.”
But Ronald Reyes and Jo Imbong, lawyers of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), cried foul when the bill was amended to include provisions on “sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity.”
Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes, meanwhile, said the CBCP Commission on Family and Life appealed to lawmakers to exclude provisions for lesbians, gays, bisexuals (LGBT) and transgenders that may lead to suits against Church adherents.
Catholic priests would refuse to perform same-sex “marriages” if it comes to that, and the Church has a standing policy of not admitting into seminaries men with deep-seated homosexual inclinations.
Would these policies constitute violations of an anti-discrimination law?
To the Church’s credit, its catechism condemns acts like the recent killing of Felix Alcalde Jr. alias Luningning, 23, who was apparently raped before he was beaten to death in barangay Buhisan, Cebu City last week.
No. 2358 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says:
“The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”
We, too, condemn the killing of Alcalde, which marred the Cebu City Council’s declaration of support for LGBT rights and their “pride fiesta” at the University of the Philippines Cebu last Saturday. The killing was, foremost, a brutal act. May the perpetrators be caught, convicted and jailed.
That said, the Church, the government, LGBT community and general public need to dialogue with and understand one another.
Members of the LGBT community are seeking protection from speech and acts that would trample their dignity as human beings, and at worst, snuff out their lives merely on account of their sexual preferences.
The Church, in its understanding, is guarding persons with homosexual inclinations from “unjust discrimination” and from a lifestyle rife with psychological harm and a host of sexually-transmitted diseases; a lifestyle which wrecks families and marriages, and which, if followed unrepentantly, entails the forfeiture of eternal life.
The State has a duty to uphold and promote marriage, defined in the country’s Family Code as “a special contract of permanent union between a man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life… an inviolable social institution.”
Society, guilty of derisively labeling even innocent children “gay,” and treating them accordingly even before they have any idea why, needs to make amends for its role in confusing its members about their sexual identity. (The verbal abuse, not surprisingly, has been turned into an expression of defiance by some members of the LGBT community, who are often overheard calling one another, without qualms, “bayot buang” or gay fools.)
All these need to be considered in the crafting of an anti-discrimination law.