Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has always said he was on the LGBTQ+ community’s side. He has pushed for the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill, aka the SOGIE Equality Bill. He’s also expressed support for same-sex marriage and has assured members of the community that they are loved by God.
Yet, for all the support Duterte has given, he still says he “cured himself of being gay.”
In a speech in Japan last Friday, Duterte was first talking about how Antonio Trillanes IV could be gay. He also claimed that he could tell because “gays can sense and identify fellow gays.” The two are rivals, so it could be seen as Duterte trying to put Trillanes’ in a bad light and diminishing his competency via a bad joke.
Seriously, he’s still using “gay” as an insult and punchline?
Duterte then continued that he became a man again when he met his first wife, Elizabeth Zimmerman. “Mabuti na lang pareho kami ni Trillanes pero nagamot ko ang sarili ko noong kami na ni Zimmerman,” (It’s a good thing Trillanes and I are the same. But I cured myself when I started dating Zimmerman) he said.
We just discussed this a few days ago, but let us reiterate: Homosexuality is not a disease that one could or should “cure.” It was considered a mental health disorder, but the World Health Organization (WHO) already removed it from the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) in 1992.
Do you want to know again how people would try to “fix” homosexuality? Electroconvulsive shock therapy, pumping people with nausea-inducing drugs as they watch erotica, sending minors to conversion camps, and pastors trying to pray the gay away like it’s an exorcism. It also doesn’t help that conversion therapy is not banned here in the Philippines.
There’s another form of gay conversion that we weren’t able to tackle before: corrective rape. This is an act wherein gay men and lesbians are raped to “cure” them and make them straight. This practice is homophobic because it instills the idea that being heterosexual and cisgender is the accepted expressions of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or whatever you identify with is something you are born with. It’s not a disease, nor is it a lifestyle choice.
So, for the head of our country to nonchalantly say that he cured himself of homosexuality is a far cry from his alleged support of the community. If he was really on the side of LGBTQ+ Filipinos, he wouldn’t imply that their experiences are some sort of disease that could be fixed with a heterosexual relationship.
But then again, Duterte’s alliance with the LGBTQ+ community has lapsed multiple times during his presidency. He has opposed to same-sex marriage once before because he believes it’s an exclusively Western ideal that doesn’t apply to us “because we are Catholics.”
Just last February, he claimed that 40 percent of NPA rebels were gay, saying his son, Baste, was molested by them. He also called bishops and US ambassador Philip Goldberg “gay” because he’s feuding with them. Again, he uses this insulting narrative to minimize people through his innate homophobia.
It’s the same when Duterte said he will support women empowerment while being misogynistic across the board. If he wants to be an LGBTQ+ ally, he should practice what he preaches. At this point, saying he supports the SOGIE Equality Bill and same-sex unions just seems like lip service.
It’s also Pride Month, for heaven’s sake. We shouldn’t have room for such homophobia—not today, not ever.
Photo courtesy of Inquirer.net
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