For Immediate Release
February 22, 2016
Reference: Katrina Cortes, Coordinator, BAYAN USA Northeast Queer Caucus, email@example.com
BAYAN-USA Northeast Queer Caucus stands resolutely with Aries Dela Cruz and other LGBTQIGNC (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, Intersex, and Gender Non Conforming) people standing up against Manny Pacquiao’s offensive homophobic comments that suggest people in “same-sex relationships” are worse than animals. In an admirable act of resistance, Dela Cruz released a petition calling for Nike to “[end] their sponsorship deals with Pacquiao and [remove] him from their marketing and outreach materials.” However, Dela Cruz is facing backlash from global homophobia and receiving hate mail and death threats. BAYAN-USA Northeast Queer Caucus staunchly condemns these acts of anti-LGBTQIGNC violence against Dela Cruz. As a National Democratic alliance, BAYAN-USA Northeast recognizes that these homophobic and transphobic sentiments reflect the reactionary culture of a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society. On top of holding individuals accountable, it is extremely important to free the Filipino people from backward thinking through the promotion of a progressive and scientific culture.
Pacquiao Claims Homosexuals Worse than Animals
Internationally renowned boxer and member of the Philippine House of Representatives, Pacquiao claims that he is not condemning LGBTQIGNC folks but rather “just the marriage, committing sin against God.” Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, Pacquiao is not alone in holding such homophobic sentiments that can be traced to the semi-feudal and semi-colonial character of current Philippine society.
With the advent of Spanish colonization in 1521, Catholicism and its institution of marriage was used as a tool to colonize the Filipino people—as its legitimacy rests on the gender binary and the patriarchal notion of the husband’s dominance over his wife—of marriage as ownership and private property.
The strong presence of homophobia in the Philippines is a symptom of centuries of Spanish colonization that continues under US imperialism, enabling Pacquiao to make unfounded and unscientific suggestions that animals do not engage in same-sex relationships. The scientific community, however, easily knows that Pacquiao’s statement is a fallacy and that in fact there are at least 450 animals that engage in same-sex behavior, as evidenced in Canadian biologist Bruce Bagemihl’s Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity.
Dela Cruz Petitions for Nike to Drop Pacquiao
To combat Pacquiao’s homophobia, graduate student and Philippine Forum member Aries Dela Cruz started a petition for Nike to end its endorsement of Pacquiao. Dela Cruz appeals to Nike’s support of past LGBT athletic events, pointing out that Pacquiao’s comments do not align with Nike’s image.
Dela Cruz has been attacked internationally with hate mail, death threats, and even a persona non grata. However, the legal feasibility of the persona non grata is laughable as Article 9.1 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations makes concessions for granting persona non grata for issues related only to diplomacy—not to subjective claims of treason where the basis is a graduate student fighting for the basic human rights of LGBTQIGNC Filipinos.
The Real Enemy of LGBTQIGNC Filipinos
Though public figures should be held accountable for what they say, we must not lose sight of the fact that the real traitors in this battle are U.S. multinational corporations such as Nike and imperialist powers.
While the Pacman has in some instances supported Filipino workers such as backing a P125 wage hike in 2011, Nike generated a global revenue of approximately 28 billion U.S. dollars in 2014, stolen from the backs of 56,500 exploited workers worldwide. In 2015, Nike’s revenue continued to increase, amounting to over 30 billion U.S. dollars. While Nike may choose to cut off Pacman at this moment out of fear that their profits will plummet if they refuse, they will still continue to maintain their system of exploitation, including the exploitation of LGBTQIGNC workers. Pacquiao must realize that to be a true champion of Filipino workers, he must wage the struggle of the working class, and not contribute to the exploitation of a few, particularly, as someone running to represent the people in the Philippine Senate.
Because of the layers of oppression that LGBTQIGNC people face including job discrimination and unequal pay, the majority of LGBTQIGNC Filipinos are working class. Anti-LGBTQIGNC sentiment perpetuates economic violence and impoverishment against LGBTQIGNC Filipinos as they are exploited for cheap labor. In an environment that upholds and fosters homophobia and transphobia, LGBTQIGNC folks are often isolated from their families which forces them into work with employers who enforce discriminatory policies that lead to smaller wages, into sex work, or to the system of unemployment and underemployment. This means that we must support the working-class struggle in order to support the largest number of LGBTQIGNC Filipinos.
U.S. Imperialism and the Murder of Jennifer Laude
A recent case of violence that highlights how U.S. imperialism is the primary enemy of LGBTQIGNC Filipinos and Filipino women is the murder of Jennifer Laude, a Filipina trans woman, by U.S. Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton.
Laude’s murder reveals another ugly face of imperialism that affects LGBTQIGNC Filipinos: U.S. military presence and militarization. Throughout Pemberton’s trial, Pemberton claimed “trans panic defense” to justify his murder of Laude, claiming that he felt “scammed” and felt that he needed to “defend his honor.” That Pemberton was given a lesser charge of homicide and continues to be held in U.S. custody even after conviction by the Philippine justice system not only shows how transphobia is dangerously upheld by legal institutions but also how transphobia, U.S. imperialism and militarization are inextricably linked and uphold one another.
Pemberton was stationed in the Philippines because of unequal treaties the Philippines has with the U.S. such as the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). Such treaties violate Philippine sovereignty by allowing the U.S. military ambiguous discretion, autonomy, and control which then allow for U.S. crimes against Filipinos such as Jennifer Laude to continue without any accountability.
Both the U.S. military and Nike are arms of U.S. imperialism, the basic problem and enemy perpetuating economic violence against LGBTQIGNC and working class Filipinos.
BAYAN Northeast Queer Caucus supports the work of Aries Dela Cruz to hold Pacquiao accountable for his inflammatory comments which only further uphold and foster a homophobic and transphobic environment in the Philippines. Justice for LGBTQIGNC Filipinos must go beyond Nike dropping an international figure like Pacquiao. BAYAN USA Northeast Queer Caucus stands for the advancement of a mass-oriented, scientific and patriotic culture to combat the colonial, feudal, and reactionary culture that harbors backwards sentiments against LGBTQIGNC people.
Justice is not a superficial apology on Facebook that does not create material change or progress for oppressed people—Pacquiao and other candidates must take note to respect and understand the needs of their constituents as they run for Senate and other offices in upcoming elections.
Justice for LGBTQIGNC Filipinos is supporting those who stand up for their rights. Justice for LGBTQIGNC Filipinos means providing them with their basic needs: healthcare, housing, and human rights that they do not have access to because the largest number of LGBTQIGNC people are working class and face the exploitation of big multinational corporations like Nike.
By liberating our communities from colonial mentality through the propagation of pro-people and scientific ideas, we can impel our communities to struggle for the overthrow of their oppressors. Only by educating and organizing Filipinos in the US to take up the struggle of the poor and working classes, especially that of LGBTQIGNC working-class people, can genuine justice be achieved.
STOP ANTI-LGBTQIGNC VIOLENCE!
STAND UP FOR LGBTQIGNC RIGHTS!
HEALTHCARE, HOUSING, AND HUMAN RIGHTS FOR TRANS AND GENDER-NONCONFORMING PEOPLE NOW!
STRUGGLE FOR A PRO-PEOPLE, MASS ORIENTED CULTURE!