It is difficult to have arguments based on belief and religion as any “debate” will devolve into logically fallacious exchanges. Still, here’s my take on the issue on Pacquiao and his remarks on gays.
I acknowledge that Manny Pacquio has brought recognition to our country as a boxer and an athlete. However, his identity has grown so much more than his boxer persona. He is heavily idolized by fellow Filipinos. If he has the draw to stop street crime during his fights, he has probably the clout in terms of cult following to influence ideologies with what he says or does. He is an ambassador. He is a symbol. He is an idol.
Ultimately, he is an elected member of Congress and is now aspiring to be a senator. By this alone, I believe that there is no excuse to blurt out such remarks even if they are based on his religious beliefs. Comparing gays to animals considering “mas mabuti pa ang hayop”? Was he speaking as a Christian pastor and an individual at that time? Maybe.
However, in Philippine society, he is an elected official. Include that to the context of appearing in an interview (with the impeccable timing just as he is running for senate) and then he has a responsibility to be careful and critical with whatever he says and should be held accountable for such language. He, as a civil servant, should have been mindful that there is a separation between Church and State and not to place any Filipino at unequal standing to others on the basis of sexuality, belief, or race. He was talking about “common sense,” right? How about the a common sense of humanity.
It is not about simply getting all too sensitive and touchy about one person’s remarks. The LGBT community has the right to be angry if they choose to. No minority, especially a still-oppressed group like the LGBTs, should be silenced when it comes to their agenda of acceptance and equality.
Now to expand the discourse beyond the LGBT and Pacquio. Why aren’t we reaching the levels of the socio-cultural factors that shaped the context in which such thinking and actions are allowed to happen?
Why are we voting for the uneducated and unenlightened people into critical positions in government? Why can’t we all understand the separation of church and state? Why does the media continue to selectively sensationalize issues and fail to educate the electorate? Why can’t we all just set aside religion in such cases and focus on what is fundamentally human?
That said, we should not stop at Manny Pacquiao. We should all be calling out all bigots and idiots in politics. Not to bash them like the Internet trolls that we are but to hopefully reshape the larger context that we are all in.
For a more detailed take on several points of this issue, check out my friend, Miguel’s post.