Needless to say, these last seven days have been a hurricane of emotions thanks to Manny Pacquiao.
On February 15, Pacquiao said these now infamous words “Mabuti pa yung hayop marunong kumikilala kung lalaki o lalaki, babae o babae. Ngayon, kung lalaki sa lalaki o babae sa babae, mas masahol pa sa hayop ang tao (Animals are better because they can distinguish between male and female. If men lie with other men or women lie with other women, then we are lower beings than animals.)”
Pacquiao followed up with a non-apology and an Instagram post that included a Bible passage condemning to death those who engaged in same-sex relations.
Like many of you, we were dehumanized and outraged when we heard these ignorant and hate-filled words. Not only because the local human rights-based discourse on marriage was reduced to animal instinct. But also because this came from someone who is poised to become a senator and create laws for our country in our behalf.
If [LGBTQIA+ people] receive violence and discrimination from family, friends, or strangers all in the name of the Word of the Pacman, who in those scenarios are masahol pa sa hayop (lower beings than animals)?
When so many supported Pacquiao by either endorsing his statement (including public figures like Juan Ponce Enrile and Erwin Tulfo) or hiding behind their selective acceptance (“I’m not condemning the gays, but…”), it brought nothing but discord. Friendships were broken, family relationships marred, and workplaces and schools became less safe.
We feared for the young and old LGBTQIA+ people who were most at risk because of this controversy. We wondered worriedly, if they receive violence and discrimination from family, friends, or strangers all in the name of the Word of the Pacman, who will protect them? Who in those scenarios are masahol pa sa hayop (lower beings than animals)?
We joined the rest of the LGBTQIA+ community in readying counter-attacks and bracing for more hatred.
Instead, what came was an onslaught of people from all walks of life rallying around us. As a community that has been subject to so much religion-based hate, this outspoken outpouring of support was not something we expected.
After a week of so much vitriol, ignorance, and unadulterated nega, we at Metro Manila Pride would like to focus on drowning out the hate, celebrating the strong voices of our community and allies, and urging the rest of the country to let love and equality in.
Your voice silences not only the bigots but also the creeping doubt settling in the minds of those still struggling with their sexuality and worth.
We applaud those who guarded our right to freedom of speech from being used as tools of oppression. You protested when Pacquiao and his supporters hid behind this by reminding them that their abuse of this freedom is at the expense of the right to life of many LGBTQIA+ people.
We echo the voices of those who firmly asserted and claimed the humanity of LGBTQIA+ people. Whether claiming it for yourself or for your mother, cousin, workmate, best friend, or yourneighbor, we applaud you! Your voice silences not only the bigots but also the creeping doubt settling in the minds of those still struggling with their sexuality and worth.
We urge our LGBTQIA+ community, our families, our friends, and our allies to engage our detractors in a calm, logical, fact-based manner. Let us stick to the topic—combatting bigotry in our country and upholding the human rights of ALL Filipinos—and not resort to name-calling or personal attacks.
By bringing to the forefront our desire to educate them in the rights-based discourse of marriage equality, we help disempower their masahol pa sa hayop (lower being than animals) label for us.
We join the many individuals and groups who have committed to boycotting Manny Pacquiao as an athlete, a brand endorser, and most importantly, as a leader of this country.
Don’t let hate legislate. We have been fighting for our right to live and love freely and without fear for far too long.
We urge our fellow LGBTQIA+ Filipinos and our allies to exercise their right to a leader who truly upholds the human rights of all Filipinos regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Don’t let hate legislate. Instead, use your vote to drown out hate. Vote to let love and equality into the hallowed halls of the Senate, Congress, and even Malacañang Palace.
Finally, to Mr. Pacquiao and his supporters: it will take more than your malignant and ignorant words to take the Filipino LGBTQIA+ community down. We have been fighting for our right to live and love freely and without fear for far too long. This time, we’ve got a bigger army of love behind us.