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House Committee on Human Rights Chairperson calls homosexuality “morally reprehensible” October 21, 2006

Posted by lagablab in Anti-Discrimination Bill, Discrimination, gay rights.
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Last Friday, October 13, 2006, Rep. Bienvenido Abante, congressman of the 6th District of Manila and Chairperson of the Committee on Civil, Political, and Human Rights blocked the House of Representatives from tackling the Anti-Discrimination Bill (HB 634) for Second Reading. The Second Reading approval is considered to be one of the most important phases in the legislative mill. (Read here for more info on how laws are made in the Philippines).

A Baptist pastor prior to his election, Rep. Abante is a fire-and-brimstone conservative notoriously known for spearheading the campaign to ban the Da Vinci Code movie in Manila City. He also led the mass burning of copies of the Dan Brown novel. During last Friday’s session, he reportedly declared that the bill, which penalizes a broad range of human rights violations against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders, promotes a sexuality that he considers “morally reprehensible.” Previously, in a TV show on ABS-CBN News Channel, he erroneously announced that the bill would result in the legalization of same-sex unions. In the same interview, he equated homosexuality with pedophilia, saying that protecting lesbians and gays from discrimination is like extending support for pedophiles.

Despite the support from the House Committee on Rules for the bill, Rep. Abante reportedly threatened to filibuster (a dilatory tactic to delay a legislative process) to obstruct its approval. The House Committee on Rules Chairperson, Rep. Nograles, had a prior agreement with AKBAYAN Representatives Mayong Aguja, Risa Hontiveros, and Etta Rosales, the main authors of the Anti-Discrimination Bill, to pass the bill before Congress went into a short recess beginning October 13, 2006.

Since the House of Representatives was in a middle of a marathon session to approve the 2007 budget, Abante’s filibustering would cause an unnecessary delay. Rep. Abante was reportedly jeered by colleagues who were equally surprised by his refusal to support a human rights bill. He even sat near the Majority Floor leader to make sure that he would be recognized to interpellate once the bill is read.

Ironically, it was the House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights that first approved the Anti-Discrimination Bill when it was chaired by AKBAYAN Rep. Loretta Ann Rosales. Rosales was later removed from the position when she supported the impeachment complaint against President GMA.

Despite Rep. Abante’s opposition, Rep. Nograles and Majority Floor Leader Del de Guzman assured the authors of the bill that it would be tackled for approval when session resumes on November 6, 2006.

Please send protest letters to Rep. Abante and demand from him equal recognition of the basic human rights and fundamental freedoms of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. Express your condemnation of his discriminatory actions and of his failure, as the Chairperson of the House Committee on Human Rights and as an elected public official, to respect and recognize the Bill of Rights as enshrined in the Philippine Constitution. Here’s his address:

Office of Rep. Bienvenido Abante, Jr.
Rm. 407, South-wing,
House of Representatives,
Batasan Hills, Quezon City
Phone: 931-5001 local 7248 or 9315691 (telefax)
Email: abante_maynila@yahoo.com

Also, send letters of complaint to House Speaker Jose de Venecia for Rep. Abante’s failure to fulfill his mandate as the Human Rights Chairperson. Tell Speaker de Venecia that as the Chairperson of the House Committee on Human Rights, Rep. Abante is committing a violation of human rights by excluding lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders. Below is Speaker de Venecia’s address:

Office of House Speaker Jose de Venecia
Rm. MB-2, House of Representatives, Quezon City
Phone: 931-5001 local 7446, 9315071 to 9315073
Email: devenecia@pldtdsl.net

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