Saturday, May 08, 2010

Trailblazers: Ang Ladlad, is the world's first political party for LGBT

Danton Remoto (pictured) founded, Ang Ladlad, the world's first gay political party. On Monday, for the first time in the Philippines, this trailblazing political party will be on the ballot. It's a long road ahead for LGBT activists in the Philippines, where queerness is considered a moral sin against God (it's estimated that eight out of 10 households are Roman Catholic). I hope the candidates win every seat!

CNN's Elizabeth Yuan reports:
The elections on Monday will determine whether Ang Ladlad (which translates as "Out of the Closet") -- which represents lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender Filipinos (LGBT) -- will get the maximum three seats allowable for a marginalized or underrepresented party in Congress.

Leading the five nominees under Ang Ladlad's banner is its national secretary of seven years, Bemz Benedito, who is transgender and also works for Senator Loren Legarda, herself a vice presidential candidate and Ang Ladlad supporter.

"We are running a common platform of equal rights, not special rights," said Benedito.

Topping Ang Ladlad's five-plank agenda is support for the Anti-Discrimination Bill that would criminalize discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The bill has been filed multiple times in the Philippines Congress to no success.

The four other items on Ang Ladlad's platform are:

• Support for LGBT-related and LGBT-friendly businesses

• Setting up of microfinance projects for poor and disabled LGBT Filipinos

• Setting up centers that could provide legal aid and counseling services for poor and aging LGBT Filipinos

• Support for the repeal of the Anti-Vagrancy law, a tool that Ang Ladlad says has been exploited to extort members of the LGBT community.

Absent is same-sex marriage, which has slowly become legalized in other parts of the world.

"We've done surveys -- we're going to lose on this one," said Ang Ladlad founder Danton Remoto, pointing to the predominance of Catholicism. "We're not going to push this. We focus on human rights first."

Also absent from the platform is a gender recognition bill, which would recognize transgender people and allow them to legalize the names they identify with.