In terms of sheer numbers, the Philippines is a major Catholic country one that doesn't often make the headlines in the Catholic press elsewhere, except at Easter (when many Catholics re-enact the Passion by volunteering to be crucified themselves).
Perhaps progressive Catholics should pay more attention. Filipinos have demonstrated remarkable imagination in finding ways t0 protest the actions of their politically powerful, conservative bishops. A few years ago, a group of women protested the bishops' active campaign against the government's proposed reproductive rights bill, by delivering to the bishops' conference, colourful baskets of blown up condoms. (My favourite placard carried the message "Bless our reproductive rights").
Now, in this advent season, a group of LGBT Catholics went carolling for the bishops - with significantly altered words.
Members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community on Thursday went caroling in front of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) headquarters in Manila to press for their rights against discrimination.The protesters, led by political organization “Ang Ladlad,” trooped in front of the CBCP office in Intramuros clad in red and green, with some even wearing Santa hats, and carrying a banner which says “All We Want For Christmas is our Human Rights.”LGBT members also sang Christmas carols such as “Pasko Na Naman” and “Jingle Bells” with edited lyrics to focus on human rights.The protesters, for example, sang “All We Want for Christmas is our Human Rights” instead of the usual “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth,” an original composition by Don Gardner.
More information comes from the Philippine LGBT Hate Crimes Watch:
"We sing our carols not only for bishops and senators, but also we want the Filipino people to fill our socks and our hearts with blessings of equality by approving the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity, or SOGI, in the Senate Bill (SB) 2814 or the Anti-Ethnic, Racial or Religious Discrimination and Profiling Act of 2011," Bemz Benedito, Ladlad chairwoman, told the press.The CBCP came out recently against the bill claiming that SOGI is a personal choice of LGBTs and do not need legal safeguards. The bishops have also traditionally maintained in the nine years that pro-gay bills have tried to pass in Congress that equality bills will lead to same-sex marriage.
LGBT groups however countered that SOGI is a deeply ingrained attribute and that many homosexuals and transgenders suffer lifelong violations of human rights from a bigoted majority, prompting them to campaign for legislative action.
The activists took turns singing medleys of traditional Filipino and English tunes rewritten with witty lyrics that sounded out their demands. Jingle Bells was rewritten this way:
We want you to know, that lesbians and gays
Transgenders and bi's, have equal human rights
Don't discriminate, we need more love, not hate
All we want for Christmas is our equal human rights!(Chorus)Human rights, human rights, we want human rights!
Lesbian, gay, transgender, bi have equal human rights!
Comment at New Ways Ministry Bondings, where I first came across this story, notes:
Anger over the bishops’ conference position was inflamed when it was reported that a lawyer for the conference, Jo Imbong, said that LGBT people “should not be protected from discrimination” because they had the power to choose their sexual orientation.It sounds like the Filipino bishops are having the same problem that the U.S. bishops had recently when their adviser on marriage issues, Daniel Avila, suggested in a column in a Catholic newspaper that homosexuality was caused by the devil. Under pressure, Mr. Avila resigned.Let’s hope and pray that Jo Imbong either resigns or is dismissed.
- First ever United Nations report on LGBT human rights presented to General Assembly (thoolen.wordpress.com)
- In the News: Continued Shifts in American Attitudes re: LGBT Persons, Continued Challenges for People of Faith (bilgrimage.blogspot.com)
- Catholic Bishops Oppose LGBT Protections In The Philippines (thinkprogress.org)