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For the first time, Ang Ladlad, or "Out of the Closet," vies for three congressional seats set aside for minority groups.
Mike Tan, chairman of the University of the Philippines Diliman's anthropology department said that although people in the Philippines are known for their tolerance of gays, tolerance alone is not enough.
“On one hand there is this superficial tolerance, but we know there's a lot of repression and discrimination in the work place," said Tan. “It's not enough to have tolerance, you need to have the rights of the LGBT community ensured through formal institutions.”
And that's the first thing on Ang Ladlad's agenda if they win.
“The first thing we will do is re-file the anti-discrimination bill," said Remoto. “We will join with other progressive groups to get the numbers. This bill is crucial because it will outlaw discrimination in the work place, in the school, and when applying for licenses to operate a business or practice a profession. It criminalizes any act of discrimination.”
The anti-discrimination bill has been repeatedly filed and repeatedly shot down in congress.
Ang Ladlad's platform includes safeguarding the human rights of all Filipinos, along with setting up legal centers for poverty stricken and aged LBGTs, and supporting small businesses set up by the LGBT community.
When Filipinos went to the polls on Monday to elect a new president, vice president, senators, legislators and local officials, they may have also — just maybe — elected the first openly gay legislator to sit in congress.
On Tuesday, partial and unofficial election results showed Ang Ladlad garnishing enough votes to place them at number 61 out of the 187 party list groups, but Remoto fears that may not be enough. In order to win a congressional seat, Ang Ladlad must get 2 percent of the total vote. Remoto calculates the group is still around 50,000 votes short. Sen. Benigno Aquino III, whose parents fought to topple a dictatorship, looked Tuesday to be headed for a landslide victory in the presidential elections.
"Even if we don't win, it is still a victory to have come this far." Said Remoto. "And this is just the beginning, we are now a political party. If we can't make it in this election, we'll run again in the next election in 2013."
The University of the Philippines' Mike Tan agrees it is an accomplishment for the group to have come this far, considering they had little time to campaign, little money and were up against the formidable Catholic church.
In well publicized remarks last month, Bishop Deogracias Iniguez Jr., the chairman of the public affairs permanent committee of the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), said lesbians, gays, homosexuals and transgendered people should not be allowed in Congress. He said he would urge the faithful to refrain from voting for the group, whose members he called "abnormal."
“The fact that we, a conservative Catholic country, have a gay political party is progressive. It's ground-breaking." Said Tan." It allows gay and lesbian communities new possibilities. I think it is also very brave and defiant in a way — given the bullying of the Catholic church against Ang Ladlad.”
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the most recent election results.