Ang Ladlad v Commission on Elections, Supreme Court of the Philippines, 2010

Judgment of the Supreme Court of the Philippines finding that the Commission of Elections contravened the Constitution by refusing to register the LGBT political party Ang Ladlad.

In 2009, a petition was filed by political organisation, Ang Ladlad which was composed of members of the Filipino LGBT community against the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). In 2006, COMELEC refused to accredit Ang Ladlad as a party-list organisation under the Republic Act on the grounds that the organisation had no substantial membership base. In 2009 Ang Ladlad again attempted to register however were again refused by COMELEC, this time on moral grounds finding that Ang Ladlad ‘advocates sexual immorality.’ In its reasoning, COMELEC cited the Bible and the Koran.

The Supreme Court noted that Article III, Section 5 of the Constitution states that no ‘law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’ In citing the Bible and Koran in their refusal, the court found that COMELEC had violated the non-establishment clause of the Constitution.

The court also rejected COMELEC’s reasoning on moral grounds stating that ‘the denial of Ang Ladlad’s registration on purely moral grounds amounts more to a statement of dislike and disapproval of homosexuals, rather than a tool to further any substantial public interest’ and that COMELEC’s reference to violations of the Civil Code by the organisation were ‘flimsy’ and ‘disingenuous’.

In considering the equal protection clause of the Constitution (Article III, Section 1) the court disagreed that homosexuals were a separate class, but did find that COMELEC had violated the equal protection clause and that ‘laws of general application should apply with equal force to LGBTs.’

The Supreme Court held that COMELEC is not free to interfere with freedom of expression for no better reason than promoting an approved message or discouraging a disfavoured one. It found, ‘that both expressions concerning one’s homosexuality and the activity of forming a political association that supports LGBT individuals are protected as well.’

Finally, it ruled that COMELEC should recognise Ang Ladlad as a political party in the Philippines.

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