Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Political Ambiguity?

I received a good email question from a Filipino-American asking:  "Where do the political parties in the Philippines stand on LGBT rights and marriage?  It's impossible to find anything out from any of them!"

Welcome to the world of Philippine politics, my friend.  I'm left scratching my head as well.

Trying to get solid answers on issues (especially social issues) is extremely difficult because the parties aren't ideologically strong.  Their platforms or agendas tend to be quite vague and general, if they even list a platform at all.  It's quite strange to me actually -- I don't know how the people are able to make clear-cut decisions on whom to vote for if they can never get any clear-cut stands out of the parties.  Perhaps they merely vote based on the popularity and likability of the individual candidates rather than on the issues.

Philippine House of Representatives
Of the seventeen parties currently holding seats in the Philippine House of Representatives, only one, to the best of my knowledge, officially has gay rights as part of its platform:  Akbayan Citizen's Action Party.  They were actually the party that first filed the anti-discrimination bill back in 1999.  Unfortunately they're also one of the smallest parties, having just two representatives (out of 287) in the current House.

Another party, the Liberal Party of the Philippines (LP), has just one mention of fighting discrimination based on (among other things) sexual orientation, tucked within the long "Social program policy" page of its website.  That's all it says though -- no specifics, no details, no list of bills supported, opposed, or proposed which would aid in the fight against said discrimination.  But that's not uncommon in Philippine politics.  You basically have to guess, because you're more likely to be abducted by aliens than to get a definitive answer from them on LGBT issues (...or divorce, or the reproductive health bill, or abortion...)  But hey, at least they actually mentioned the words "sexual orientation."  That's a lot more than other parties do.  It's a nice first step I suppose.