Philippines' High Court Rules Gay Rights Party Can Run in May Elections

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MANILA--Controversial gay rights group Ang Ladlad - composed of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders - can participate as a party-list group in the May 10 elections, the Philippines' Supreme Court said Thursday.

In a decision penned by Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, the high court granted Ang Ladlad's petition to stop the implementation of two Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolutions denying the group's accreditation as a party-list group.

The court decision said Ang Ladlad complied with the legal requirements for accreditation as a party-list group listed in Republic Act 7941, or the Party-list System Act.

“We are not blind to the fact that, through the years, homosexual conduct, and perhaps homosexuals themselves, have borne the brunt of societal disapproval. It is not difficult to imagine the reasons behind this censure - religious beliefs, convictions about the preservation of marriage, family, and procreation, even dislike or distrust of homosexuals themselves and their perceived lifestyle. Nonetheless, we recall that the Philippines has not seen fit to criminalize homosexual conduct," the Court ruled.

Last January, the SC issued a temporary restraining order on the implementation of the Comelec's November 11 and December 17, 2009 resolutions denying accreditation to Ang Ladlad.

The first resolution by the Comelec’s Second Division denied Ang Ladlad’s application for party-list accreditation, claiming that the group was advocating “immorality" and that homosexuals were a “threat to the youth." The second decided by the Comelec en banc dispensed with finality the group’s appeal to overturn the first ruling.