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ProGay hits back at Catholic bishops on Anti-Discrimination Bill

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The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay) called on the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to stop issuing poisoned and misguided information regarding anti-discrimination proposals being considered in Congress.

The CBCP objected to Senate Bill (SB) 2814 or the Anti-Ethnic, Racial or Religious Discrimination and Profiling Act of 2011 for fears that it will legalize same sex marriages. ProGay spokesperson Goya Candelario however said that the bill itself was heavily skewed in favor of religious groups.

"We support bills that would protect human rights based on sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity because it protects all Filipino citizens, especially the oppressed Filipino women who suffer from workplace and family-based discrimination," he said.

Candelario also decried assertions by the Catholic bishops that lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders (LGBTs) are not as marginalized and oppressed in the same league as the elderly, the handicapped, and the poor. He cited CBCP lawyer Jo Imbong who claimed that LGBTs chose to be disadvantaged and do not deserve protection.

"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.

The ProGay leader 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.

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 heteros 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.

ProGay 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.

Atadero said that the Philippines still has no anti-discrimination laws despite Constitutional mandate that call for a law protecting women, cultural minorities, seniors and differently abled citizens.

By Mindanao Examiner




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