A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Philippines supreme court certifies gay rights party for election

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website] ruled [judgment text] Thursday that a prominent gay rights organization may field candidates in the upcoming national elections as an accredited political party. The decision invalidates an order [text, PDF] issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) [official website] in November that rejected a bid for party recognition by Ang Ladlad [party website]. In denying Ang Ladlad's original petition, Comelec cited the group's "[tolerance of] immorality which offends religious beliefs." The court, however, determined that the policy violated Article III, Section 5 of the Philippines Constitution [text], which has previously been interpreted to mandate "government neutrality in religious matters." The decision stated:

[W]e hold that moral disapproval, without more, is not a sufficient governmental interest to justify exclusion of homosexuals from participation in the party-list system. The denial of Ang Ladlad's registration on purely moral grounds amounts more to a statement of dislike and disapproval of homosexuals, rather than a tool to further any substantial public interest. Respondent's blanket justifications give rise to the inevitable conclusion that the Comelec targets homosexuals themselves as a class, not because of any particular morally reprehensible act.

Having met all legal requirements for certification as a party, the court ordered that Ang Ladlad be permitted to fully participate in the May elections.

The court issued a temporary restraining order [Manila Bulletin report] against Comelec in January, requiring the body to include Ang Ladlad on the list of official parties until a decision on the case's merits could be reached. In December, Comelec again rejected [GMA report] Ang Ladlad's request for accreditation. Officials voting against the group reiterated their moral concerns, and stated that their interests are sufficiently represented legislatively.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.